News

Winter 2015 Grant Announcement

We are pleased to announce the results of our Winter 2015 funding cycle. We have contributed $800,000 to 24 organizations in the USA, Canada and Mexico. Many great conservation opportunities lie ahead, and we’re proud to support these important initiatives.

We’d like to thank all of our members for supporting our grant program through their annual membership dues. We’d also like to thank the members who nominated organizations and participated in the voting process.

Here’s a complete list of the grantees and projects we supported in the Winter 2015 Grant Cycle:

Download the grant details here.

Conservation 101: A Guide to Land & Water Protection in the US

Conservation 101

“Conservation 101:  A Guide to Land & Water Protection in the US” outlines public land conservation, protective designations for public lands, private land conservation and core environmental laws. This pocket-sized booklet is designed to be a reference guide for our members to help them cast an informed ballot and for our lobby teams traveling to Washington, DC.  With help from the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Alliance, we printed thousands of copies for anyone who wants to learn more about how to protect public land and water in the US.

Download the electronic copy or contact us and we’ll drop one in the mail for you.

 

Filson Hosts Alpine Lakes Celebration

Filson Headquarters in Seattle, WA

American Rivers, along with partnering organizations of the Alpine Lakes Working Group, recently celebrated the passage of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (Alpine Lakes) with Senator Patty Murray and Representative Suzan DelBene, both sponsors of the act.

The celebration took place at Filson’s Corporate Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Filson is a member company of The Conservation Alliance which provides competitive grants to organizations, such as American Rivers, for achieving permanent protections to special places. In December, Congress passed the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act thus protecting nearly 40 river miles as Wild and Scenic and just over 22,000 acres as Wilderness.

Gray Madden, President of Filson, provided the evening’s welcome and opening remarks. Gray spoke about the importance of protected places and the recreation economy to his company and beyond. According to a new report prepared by Earth Economics for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Washington’s outdoors are worth billions in revenue, clean water and more. A few of the report’s findings include:

  • $21.6 billion is spent on outdoor recreation trips and equipment on both public and private land in Washington.
  • Nearly 200,000 jobs are supported by outdoor recreation, more than the aerospace and tech industries in Washington.
  • $8 billion is spent on activities around water, including fishing, boating, swimming and diving.

Senator Murray and Congresswoman DelBene were both presented with a gorgeous framed photo of the Pratt River and Snoqualmie River valleys and each gave a short talk recognizing the hard work and persistence it took by many individuals, organizations and supporters to achieve this success. Both of these congressional conservation champions deserve a great deal of recognition and thanks for their efforts. Senator Murray has been a stalwart champion of the Alpine Lakes bill since it was first introduced to Congress in 2007 and Rep. DelBene sponsored the bill in 2013 shortly after her election in 2012.

This past December, Congress took action to permanently protect more than 100 miles of rivers as Wild and Scenic in five different states across the nation, which included Alpine Lakes. Of those 100 river miles, approximately half of them were in Washington, increasing the state’s total number of river miles now part of the National Wild and Scenic River System by 25 percent. The upper 27.4 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, the entire length of the Pratt River, and 14.3 miles of Illabot Creek will now remain free-flowing forever along with their excellent water quality, high value habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreational values for all walks of human life.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Photo: RichBowers

American Rivers thanks The Conservation Alliance for its generous support of our Wild Rivers of the North Cascades Campaign. We are pleased with our recent success with the passage of the Alpine Lakes and Illabot Creek bills and are looking forward to our continued work to also permanently protecting the upper Nooksack River system as Wild and Scenic.

For more information about American Rivers and their work on protecting the wild rivers of the North Cascades, please contact Wendy McDermott at wmcdermott@americanrivers.org.

Eddie Bauer Donates $10,000 to Conservation Alliance Grantees

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Conservation Alliance member company Eddie Bauer decided to invest an additional $10,000 in conservation, above and beyond their annual membership contribution. Because our grantees have a history of success, Eddie Bauer chose to contribute $5,000 to two conservation projects previously funded by the Alliance; American Whitewater’s Wild Olympics Campaign and Forterra’s Yakima River Scenic Byway Project.

Eddie Bauer is a heritage brand that opened its first store in Seattle, Washington in 1920. The foundation of the business was built around Mr. Eddie Bauer’s passion for innovation, quality, and appreciation of the outdoors.  As our population grows and the amount of public land available for conservation decreases, it’s no surprise that member companies like Eddie Bauer are prioritizing conservation in their giving programs.

Over 190 outdoor businesses demonstrate their commitment to conservation by contributing annual membership dues to our central grant fund. 100% of their membership dues are passed on to the grassroots organizations working to protect wild places. We plan to distribute $1.65 million in 2015, and look forward to celebrating many conservation victories along the way.

Muir Valley Climbing Area Acquired

Jennifer Morgan

We are thrilled to announce another conservation victory:  Access Fund, in partnership with Friends of Muir Valley, raised the funds necessary to acquire Muir Valley Climbing Area. Muir Valley is a 300-acre world-class climbing destination in the Red River Gorge of Kentucky.

40,000 people visit this forested valley every year, so it is no surprise that individual donations account for 85% of the total amount raised.  The $200,000 fundraising goal was reached in just nine months, which included a partial grant from The Conservation Alliance in 2014.

The current owners spent 11 years and over $1 million turning this area into a sustainable climbing resource for future generations to enjoy.  Ownership of Muir Valley will be transferred to Friends of Muir Valley in March 2015, ensuring the long-term stewardship of this popular crag.

 

 

 

Pickin’ On The Middle Fork River Trip Aims to Raise Awareness and Benefit The Conservation Alliance

Pickin on the Middle Fork

Rafting Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River is the trip of a lifetime. Renowned as one of the premiere wilderness rivers in the world, the Middle Fork flows through the largest tract of protected public lands in the Lower 48. The Conservation Alliance and its member companies have supported a diverse team of local organizations working to protect special public lands and iconic rivers in Idaho, and the wild salmon and steelhead that call this place home.

Now YOU have an opportunity to take your own trip of a lifetime on the Middle Fork—and support The Conservation Alliance at the same time!

Conservation Alliance member company, Idaho River Adventures, is partnering with American Roots Music artists FruitionHot Buttered Rum and Cabinet to offer three all-inclusive rafting trips aimed at raising awareness for wilderness conservation. All proceeds from these trips will benefit The Conservation Alliance.

Pickin’ on the Middle Fork is the opportunity to experience this special place like few others have: with a live acoustic soundtrack, professional guides, good company and all for a great cause. Learn more and reserve your seat today!

Thank you for your continued support of The Conservation Alliance and the incredible organizations that work tirelessly to protect wild places and experiences like those found on the Middle Fork. If you feel inspired, please share this opportunity with your community online and on the ground.

Introducing Browns Canyon National Monument

BrownsCanyon_2015

On February 19, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon National Monument near Salida, CO. This proclamation preserves 22,000 acres of Forest Service and BLM land in Colorado and provides outstanding opportunities for fishing, whitewater boating, hiking and many other outdoor activities. It is one of the most popular whitewater destinations in the country; attracting roughly 150,000 visitors annually who contribute $60 million to the local economy. The area provides critical habitat for bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and mountain lions.

The Conservation Alliance funded two organizations working to protect Browns Canyon:  Conservation Colorado and Conservation Lands Foundation. We funded Conservation Colorado in 2006 for their effort to designate Browns Canyon as wilderness.  After more than fifteen years of attempts to protect Browns Canyon via legislation, the strategy shifted to a national monument campaign.  Conservation Lands Foundation, a 2014 grantee, worked with the Obama Administration to bring this national monument campaign across the finish line.

Senator Mark Udall introduced legislation last year to designate Browns Canyon as a National Monument, but Congress failed to move the bill. Udall’s legislation specified that paddling on the Arkansas would continue to be managed by the Colorado State Parks as it is today. The president’s proclamation of Browns Canyon National Monument honors the spirit of Udall’s legislation, which followed a multi-year process of input from local residents, paddlers, ranchers, and businesses.

The Conservation Alliance applauds President Obama for designating the Browns Canyon National Monument. With this proclamation, President Obama continues his legacy of protecting special wild places with designations that enjoy strong local support. We thank President Obama for recognizing this special place, and protecting Browns Canyon forever.

100% of our membership dues support conservation opportunities like Browns Canyon.  Together, we are making a measurable impact toward protecting threatened wild places in North America.

Browns Canyon, CO Photo: Bob Wick

A Win and a Loss for the Taku Watershed Campaign

Photo:  Rivers Without Borders

This Taku Watershed Campaign update is courtesy of Will Patric, Executive Director of Rivers Without Borders:

In the Taku, after four years of effort, Chieftain has not yet been able to obtain the more than $200 million of construction financing needed to start building the Tulsequah Chief mine. RWB’s efforts to highlight the substantial risks of the project, including First Nation opposition, the impracticality of barging, and downstream Alaskan opposition has contributed to that outcome. In fact, Royal Gold, the only entity to date to promise any funding for the mine, recently announced that on December 22nd it pulled out of its agreement to provide $45 million in construction financing, and required Chieftain, already struggling financially, to repay its initial $10 million working capital loan to the company. An excerpt from Royal Gold’s press release is attached.

That timing was critical, because on January 13 the BC Minister of the Environment made her redetermination of whether or not the Tulsequah Chief mine was “substantially started.”  This redetermination was required by the Supreme Court of BC as a result of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) lawsuit. In July, the Supreme Court ruled that the TRTFN should have been consulted as part of the process, and that the First Nation should have been given the opportunity to submit evidence on whether mine construction had been started within the regulatory timeframe. The redetermination, contrary to substantial opposing evidence, common sense, and skepticism expressed by the Court, was that Tulsequah Chief is “substantially started.”  Obviously this is a disappointing finding. The TRTFN is currently weighing legal options. While the legal challenge did not cause Chieftain to lose its Environmental Certificate as hoped, it created more uncertainty about an already controversial and tenuous mine proposal, as evidenced by the mine’s recent investment loss. It also underscored that First Nations rights must be considered in mine projects and all related government deliberations, and that investors will be wary of risk if a project does not have social license.

Marmot and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Raise $10,000

For the fourth consecutive year, Marmot and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance worked together to raise money for The Conservation Alliance.  For any Marmot product over $99 sold by a Grassroots Retailer, Marmot pledged to donate $10 to The Conservation Alliance, up to $10,000.  The campaign came to a successful close, and we are pleased to announce that Marmot will be contributing $10,000 towards the permanent protection of wild place in North America.

“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of every participating Grassroots Outdoor Alliance member. They make this promotion work for The Conservation Alliance through their dedicated efforts to support our wild lands,” says Tom Fritz, Marmot’s Vice President of Marketing. “This past fall marked our fourth consecutive year collaborating with Grassroots, and together we’ve raised more than $45,000 for the Conservation Alliance. It’s one of most successful promotions we do to benefit a non-profit organization.”

Wes Allen, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance stated, “Independent outdoor stores are focused on supporting the type of work that the Conservation Alliance excels at—preserving and reclaiming our wild places for both their innate value and recreational qualities. This partnership with Marmot allows Grassroots retailers to really focus on issues that are important to our customers, our businesses, and ourselves.”

The support from Marmot and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is very important to us, and we applaud our members for finding a creative way to engage consumers about the importance of conservation.

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: President Obama Recommends Wilderness for Arctic Refuge

After receiving more than 1 million public comments requesting stronger protections for America’s iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, President Obama and Interior Secretary Jewell unveiled the Refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) yesterday, recommending a Wilderness designation for the Arctic Refuge’s Coastal Plain. This reverses the longstanding Reagan-era recommendation to drill for oil in the Coastal Plain. The president has sent the message to Congress that the administration – like the American people – wants to see Congress finally act to protect this sacred place. A Wilderness recommendation to Congress is the most significant shift in momentum towards permanent protection that any president has made since the Refuge was established by President Eisenhower.

The Conservation Alliance has been involved in the effort to protect the Arctic Refuge for the past decade. It is an iconic and remote landscape notable for its wildlife and outstanding recreation opportunities. I had the opportunity to visit the Refuge several years ago with a group of outdoor industry leaders. We floated the Canning River, which flows north from the Brooks Range to the Arctic Ocean. During the trip, we saw wolves, grizzlies, musk oxen, and countless bird species. On the last day, a herd of hundreds of caribou moved through our campsite, seemingly unfazed by our presence. We swatted mosquitoes, caught Arctic grayling, and hiked in the midnight sun. My words fail when describing the experience.

Adam Forest sizes up wolf tracks in the Arctic Refuge.

 

Much of the Arctic Refuge is already designated Wilderness, the highest level of protection we can give to federal lands. But, there is a 1.5-million-acre strip of land – known as the Coastal Plain – where the refuge meets the Arctic Ocean that has been at the center of controversy for decades. The rivers of the Arctic Refuge all flow into the Beaufort Sea through the Coastal Plain. Along with the Brooks Range, the Coastal Plain bookends the 19-million-acre refuge into one of the most pristine, intact, and spectacular landscapes left on our planet. Unfortunately, the Coastal Plain also has known oil reserves that oil companies and their political allies would love to exploit. Since visiting the Arctic Refuge, I have often thought what it would be like to take that singular journey from the Brooks Range down the Canning River, ending at an Arctic coast riddled with oil wells. The contrast would be an insult to the eye, and the landscape.

President Obama’s Wilderness recommendation for the Coastal Plain is important because it is now the official position of the US government that this important area should be protected rather than opened for energy development. And it will be managed as such for the life of the CCP signed yesterday.

The Conservation Alliance thanks President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for taking this important step toward final, permanent protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And we call on Congress to act on the President’s recommendation, and pass a bill that designates the Coastal Plain as Wilderness.

To thank President Obama for this exciting news, please sign the petition at: http://www.protectthearcticrefuge.org/

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