80 Volunteers Join The Conservation Alliance in Lyons, CO

Boulder BYC21

Nine outdoor industry member companies and six non-profit organizations joined us in Lyons, Colorado for our fifth Backyard Collective event of the year. Backyard Collectives bring together member company employees and local non-profits for a day of environmental action.  80 volunteers donated their time to help repair flood damage impacted the corridor trail in Lyons.  The trail is a main thoroughfare for pedestrians & cyclists to safely travel along the busy entrance to town.

Employees from Backpackers PantryOsprey PacksLa SportivaNite IzeVerdeMerrellSea to SummitKelty, OIABoulder Mountain Bike AllianceIMBAAccess FundColorado Mountain ClubConservation Colorado and 1% for the Planet participated in the event.

Thank you to all of our members and non-profit partners for doing good work to preserve and protect the open space in your community.

Shell Abandons Arctic Oil Drilling

“Kayaktavists” protest Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean. Photo: Charles Conatzer & the sHellNo! Action Council

After seven years of planning and preparation, and billions of dollars spent, Shell Oil Company announced this week that it will abandon its oil drilling effort in the Arctic Ocean “for the foreseeable future.” Conservation organizations, including Conservation Alliance grantee Alaska Wilderness League, fought Shell’s drilling plan from the start, but it appeared the company had cleared the final hurdle when it launched exploratory drilling in the Chuchki Sea this Summer.

Shell explained that it found little oil in its “Burger J” exploratory well. “Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future. This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska,” the company said.

The Conservation Alliance funded Alaska Wilderness League (AWL) in 2013 and 2014 to support the group’s Protect the Arctic Ocean Campaign, aimed at halting Shell’s drilling plans. Here is a statement from AWL’s Executive Director Cindy Shogan in response to the Shell announcement.

With Shell leaving the Arctic Ocean, we ask that Congress and the Obama Administration take this opportunity to once and for all prohibit future drilling in the Arctic Ocean, and protect the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with a Wilderness designation.

Congress Lets Land and Water Conservation Fund Expire

Rocky Fork Track Acquired with LWCF Funds Photo: David Ramsey

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a popular and successful conservation funding program managed by the federal government, expired today. Congress failed to reauthorize the broadly-supported program, which for the past 50 years has provided a reliable source of funding to purchase lands important for outdoor recreation and habitat conservation. Despite the expiration, LWCF advocates will continue to push for Congress to renew the program.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the LWCF into law in 1964, creating a fund that would take royalties from oil and gas drilling and put those dollars into land acquisition for recreation and conservation. The fund cost taxpayers nothing. The oil and gas drilling continues, but the royalties that once purchased land for parks, playgrounds, and river access now goes into the general treasury.

“This is a sad day for everyone who cares about our National Parks and outdoor conservation, recreation and wildlife.  Congress has broken an enduring promise to the American people,” said Alan Rowsome, Senior Director of Government Relations for Lands at the Wilderness Society.  “Starting tomorrow, oil drilling will continue, but the American people won’t see a penny of the proceeds reinvested in outdoor conservation and recreation.  This is a shameful and brazen assault on America’s greatest places.”

Many Conservation Alliance grantees used our funding to cover the staff time necessary to secure funding from the LWCF. Between 2007-2013, we made grants totaling $400,000 to 12 different organization that leveraged those funds to win $99 million in grants from the LWCF, multiplying our investment nearly 250 times. It will be difficult to replace this important source of conservation funding.

Though this is a dark day for conservation, the LWCF remains popular among a bipartisan coalition of Congressional representatives who vow to work to attach a reauthorization bill to a forthcoming must-pass bill, like the omnibus spending bill or a highway and transportation bill. The path forward is uncertain, but given the strong public support, and the bipartisan commitment from members of Congress, we have reason to hope that the LWCF will ultimately be reauthorized. Stay tuned for details on how you can get involved.

Meanwhile, here is a great piece about the LWCF expiration from High Country News.

And here’s a slide show of special places protected by LWCF, courtesy of Slate.

Portland Backyard Collective

Over 250 people from Columbia Sportswear, Merrell, Yakima Racks, NauIcebreaker, KEEN, The North Face, Trail Butter, Notogroup and Hi Tec joined us for the Portland Backyard Collective event earlier this month. Together we: cleared 6.5 miles of trail in Forest Park; cleaned up Audrey McCall Beach; and moved yards of mulch, hauled branches, and supervised the falling of a tree in the Hoyt Arboretum.

Western Rivers Conservancy, Oregon Wild, 1% for the Planet, Wild Salmon Center and Human Access Project joined the volunteers for a take-action tabling event after lunch. Thanks for coming out everyone!







Success! American River Conservancy Completes 10,115 Acre Granite Chief Property Acquisition

Granite Chief / American River Headwaters, CA  Photo Credit:  American River Conservancy

On Wednesday, August 5thAmerican River Conservancy (ARC) closed escrow on, thus permanently protecting, 9,955 acres of land known as the American River Headwaters/Granite Chief Property.  These acquired lands adjoin another 160 acres acquired by ARC in 2013, and completes the purchase of section numbers 1, 29, 35 and 36 on this mapThis acquisition has protected and preserved the largest private inholding on the Sierra Nevada Crest south of Donner Summit.

This forested landscape is at the headwaters of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. The property is immediately west of North Lake Tahoe, CA, the Olympic Valley/Squaw Valley Ski Area and the Pacific Crest Trail.

The $50,000 Conservation Alliance grant awarded to ARC in 2014 was instrumental in initiating a massive fundraising campaign, enabling ARC and its partners to raise the $14.5 million required for this conservation project including $11,000,000 for the purchase price and transaction expense; $1.15 million for a stewardship endowment and $2.35 million for restoration.  This restoration work includes the decommissioning of approximately 20 miles of logging roads, and the repair of streams and wet meadows on 3,055 acres. ARC expects to begin the physical restoration work in June, 2016.  Once the restoration work is complete, they expect to add more than 3,000 of the newly acquired acres to the Granite Chief Wilderness.

The Conservation Alliance is deeply proud to have played a role in this project. Protecting 10,000 acres in such a short amount of time, in one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world, is a great accomplishment.

Huge protected area moves ahead in Canada’s NWT


Erica Janes, Conservation Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – Northwest Territories shares exciting news about Thaidene Nene.  Since 2011, The Conservation Alliance awarded four grants totaling $155,000 to support this campaign.

With both federal and territorial elections looming in Canada in the fall, we are thrilled that significant progress has been made over the summer in finalizing protection for Thaidene Nene, the Land of the Ancestors. This huge area of sparkling lakes and rushing rivers as far as the eye can see spans the transition from boreal forest to tundra, around and beyond the shores of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. It’s the traditional homeland of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation, accessible by boat in summer, and by plane and snowmobile in winter, from the NWT capital city of Yellowknife. Within a couple of years, new parks there should be open for adventurous visitors from far and wide!

In mid-July, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) unveiled their proposed boundaries for territorial park and caribou conservation zone areas within the Thaidene Nene study area, and embarked on a public consultation program. The details around these protection mechanisms are still to be worked out – and you can rest assured that CPAWS will continue to be involved to ensure permanent and robust protection – but we have heartily congratulated the GNWT on this huge step forward in NWT conservation.

Then on July 29th, just four days before a federal election was called for October 19th, the Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Environment Minister traveled to Lutsel K’e to unveil the boundary of the proposed national park reserve portion of Thaidene Nene, and launched a parallel federal public consultation process. This would not have happened without the dedication of the entire Thaidene Nene team, or the strong encouragement from many citizens and opinion influencers whom we were able to rally.

Following public consultations, Parks Canada, the GNWT and the LKDFN will continue to negotiate the details of two separate establishment agreements, keeping in mind the goal of creating a contiguous protected area and seamless visitor experience. We expect that Thaidene Nene will be established within the next couple of years.

Commitments from both the territorial and federal governments in advance of the upcoming fall elections for both governments signal a major step forward for Thaidene Nene, and speak to the constructive and collaborative work between all levels of government that has been done in the past several months.

Continued support from The Conservation Alliance and others has enabled CPAWS to work closely with the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation in building public awareness and support for this bold conservation vision that not only encompasses protecting land, water and wildlife, but also fosters cultural continuity and promises to provide the basis of a regional and sustainable tourism economy based on conservation.

You can send a letter of congratulations to Parks Canada, the GNWT and the LKDFN via the Thaidene Nene Action Centre, and stay tuned for more on this incredible conservation opportunity in Canada’s NWT.

Congress Passes 275,665 Acre Wilderness Bill


For the past 40 years, conservationists have fought to protect the Boulder White Clouds as Wilderness. Today, that drama came to a happy ending when the US Senate voted unanimously to bestow Wilderness designation on 275,000 acres of federal land in Central Idaho. The House of Representatives passed identical legislation last week, so the measure now awaits President Obama’s signature.

The Conservation Alliance first supported this effort in 1998 when we made a $35,000 grant to the upstart Boulder White Clouds Council. We have since made five grants totaling $175,000 to Idaho Conservation League, which has led the effort to protect this special place.

During the 17 years of our involvement in this project, the campaign has taken countless twists and turns. In 2006, we organized a delegation of business leaders to travel to Washington, DC to voice support for a protected Boulder White Clouds. Legislation to save the area nearly passed the Congress that December, but failed at the 11th hour. Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, who has championed the bill for 13 years, was disappointed, but not deterred. He has re-introduced the legislation during each subsequent session of Congress.

Last fall, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we organized another group of outdoor industry representatives to go to DC and demonstrate support for protected federal lands. At a Wilderness 50 banquet, we all listened to Congressman Simpson tell the audience of his commitment to saving the Boulder White Clouds. He spoke passionately, and made it clear that he would not rest until this work was done. He was the only Republican to speak that night.

The Boulder White Clouds campaign took another turn last year when, fed up with Congressional inaction, conservationists launched a new effort to ask President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Boulder White Clouds as a national monument. Doing so would bypass Congress, but finally put the issue to rest. The Obama Administration sent signals that they would be willing to make the designation, but – recognizing that the Idaho delegation did not want to see a national monument in their state – agreed to give Congressman Simpson six months in 2015 to move the bill through Congress.

During the national monument push, The Conservation Alliance teamed up with filmmaker Alexandria Bombach to make a short film about the area as part of our worthWILD film series. The film features stunning arial footage of the Boulder White Clouds, and talks about the broad support in the recreation community for the national monument designation. We also met with key representatives in the Obama Administration to voice outdoor business support for the national monument designation.

We endorsed the national monument push for two reasons. First, it seemed unlikely that Congress would ever manage to move legislation. Second, as a national monument, the Boulder White Clouds would be protected, but still allow access to mountain biking, which is prohibited in Wilderness. Our friends in the mountain bike community worked hard to secure the monument designation, reaching an unprecedented agreement with the Wilderness community that brought the two stakeholders – often at odds with each other – together.

With the threat of the national monument proclamation looming, Congressman Simpson worked harder than ever, and managed to move his Wilderness legislation through the House of Representatives. At the same time, Idaho Senator Jim Risch – who once opposed protecting the area – used his seat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to move the bill forward in the Senate. Today, this combination of efforts paid off, and we celebrate our newest Wilderness areas.

Not everyone is celebrating today, though. Our friends in the mountain bike community feel like they have lost access to a truly special area. International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and Outdoor Alliance (OA) pushed hard for the national monument designation. As the Wilderness legislation moved forward, the mountain bike advocates proposed changing the bill to establish a mountain bike corridor through the proposed Wilderness areas. In the end, Congressman Simpson refused that request. In doing so, Simpson articulated the accommodations he made to the mountain bike community in developing the bill. Though not all of our friends will agree with the Congressman’s position, it is worth reading his explanation:

Today, we congratulate Idaho Conservation League, The Wilderness Society, and Congressman Mike Simpson for bringing to a close the 40-year effort to save a special landscape. The Boulder White Clouds now enjoys the highest form of protection we can bestow on our federal lands. Conservation icon Brock Evans, when asked what was his secret to success, said: “Endless pressure, endlessly applied.” The Conservation Alliance is proud to have played a role in applying that pressure, and are relieved that the need for pressure, in this case, was not “endless”.

This Land is OUR Land

public land heist

If outdoor recreation is a big part of your life, you likely spend a lot of time on public lands. For many of us, lands managed by the National Park Service, Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management are the setting for the most important moments in our lives.

I grew up backpacking in the Three Sisters Wilderness, and spent much of my 20s and 30s climbing in Joshua Tree and Yosemite, and skiing and hiking throughout the Sierra Nevada backcountry.  My wife and I got engaged in Tuolumne Meadows, and honeymooned on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. During a job change, we spent two months monitoring wolves in Yellowstone. We settled down in Bend, Oregon where I spend much of my free time running, biking, or skiing on Forest Service land. We recently spent a magical spring break with our young kids in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. To say that I enjoy public lands is a vast understatement. I have learned more about myself and the natural world from these experiences than any other teacher.

It is easy for us to take our public lands for granted. They’ve always been there, and presumably, they always will be there. And, because of the consistent management that federal oversight provides, we can find similar experiences in a California Wilderness area as we would in Wilderness in Colorado. We know we can camp under the stars on nearly any acre of BLM land nationwide. These lands belong to all of us; one of the great privileges of being an American.

But today, there is a misguided movement in state legislatures across the country to transfer our federal lands to the states in which they lie. Utah passed such a bill in 2012, demanding that the federal government grant control of 20 million acres of BLM and Forest Service lands to the state. Though this notion is likely unconstitutional, the trend is troubling. It shakes the foundation of our understanding of our common natural heritage. Imagine if the icons of our public lands were no longer “ours”. What if a state could not afford to manage those lands, and sold them off to extractive industries? It seems inconceivable, but many states are taking steps down that road.

The outdoor industry has awoken to this threat. A growing coalition of outdoor businesses, recreation and recreation user groups has come together to stand up for our federal lands. The Conservation Alliance is proud to partner with our peers in raising awareness about this threat, and telling our elected officials to stand strong in the belief that federal lands are best managed by the federal government, not individual states with their unpredictable budgets and perspectives on the best use of those lands. Learn more at


Those of us who love our public lands need to respond to this threat just as we would respond to attempts to take away our freedom of speech or the right to practice whatever religion we choose. Our federal lands represent our freedom to roam, play, contemplate, mourn, and celebrate in a setting that is wild, natural, and free.

Seattle Backyard Collective

Photo Credit:  Rick Meade, Nikwax

Last week, 97 volunteers from Seattle-based member companies spent a total of 291 volunteers hours removing 11,000 square feet of invasive plants and spreading 4,000 square feet of mulch at Genessee Park, WA. Participating members included Eddie Bauer, REI, Brooks, Filson, Perpetual Motion NW, Stanley , and Nikwax.

Thank you, Forterra, for organizing another successful day of stewardship!

Photo Credit: Rick Meade, Nikwax











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