News

Congress Designates New Wilderness Areas

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The US Senate voted today to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a package of public lands bills that together protect 524,300 acres of federal land including 246,300 acres of new Wilderness in Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, and New Mexico. This is the largest suite of new public lands protections by Congress since 2009.

The newly protected areas are:

  • Alpine Lakes Additions, WA: Just 45 minutes east of downtown Seattle, the Pratt, Middle Fork and South Fork Snoqualmie Valleys are the closest mountain valleys to Puget Sound population centers. The legislation permanently protects 22,000 acres of additions to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and 40 miles of the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers as Wild and Scenic.
  • Hermosa Creek, CO: The bill protects the 108,000-acre Hermosa Creek Watershed in the San Juan National Forest of southwestern Colorado, including nearly 38,000 acres of new Wilderness within the watershed.
  • Rocky Mountain Front, MT: Montanans rallied around the new protections for 275,000 acres of public land in western Montana. The bill adds 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness. The legislation also designates 208,000 acres as Conservation Management Areas.
  • Columbine-Hondo, NM: The protects 45,000 acres north of Taos, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak. The new Wilderness also contains the headwaters for two rivers.
  • Wovoka, NV: In Nevada, the bill designates 48,000 acres of wilderness in Lyon County, protecting historic, cultural, and natural resources. The Wovoka Wilderness will be named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader and father of the Ghost Dance, who lived near the area.
  • Pine Forest Range, NV: The bill protects the 26,000 acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness in northwest Nevada. The Pine Forest Range is a popular destination for sportsmen and recreationists and is prime habitat for mule deer, sage grouse, and mountain lion.

The Conservation Alliance and our member companies played a role in this success. Our funding supported the conservation organizations that led the Alpine Lakes, Hermosa Creek, and Rocky Mountain Front efforts. These grants amounted to more than $300,000 since 2008. We generated several sign-on letters from our members demonstrating business support for each of these bills. And we organized many trips to Washington, DC to meet with Congressional leaders and tell them why protecting these areas is important for the outdoor business. Earlier this year, we released Common Ground, a film about the many interesting characters that support protections for the Rocky Mountain Front. It’s hard to believe, but we first started working on the Alpine Lakes effort back in 2007. These things often take longer than we expect, but once they pass, the protections are permanent.

We recognize all of our grantees who made these protections possible: American Whitewater; Washington Wild; The Wilderness Society; Montana Wilderness Association; Friends of Nevada Wilderness; New Mexico Wilderness Alliance; and Conservation Colorado.

Though we celebrate the protection of these important places, we are disappointed that included in the same legislation is a provision that may permit a copper mine next to a popular climbing area in Arizona. Our good friends at the Access Fund have for years fought the Oak Flat land exchange that would enable the mine development. In addition to destroying the Oak Flat climbing area, the proposed mine would devastate significant Native American cultural sites, and is strongly opposed by a coalition of more than 20 tribes in Arizona. Before the land exchange is executed, the proposed mine must undergo an Environmental Assessment as mandated by NEPA. Access Fund will play a key role in fighting the land exchange through the NEPA process, and we encourage you to support Access Fund in this effort. Click here for more information.

Thank you to all of our member companies that allow us to bring our funds and voices to bear on important conservation measures.

Big Win for Canada’s Peel Watershed

Peel River Watershed, Yukon photo: Peter Mather

 

Our friends at Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Yukon scored a major court victory that will likely lead to the protection of 13 million acres of wild lands in the Peel River watershed. On December 2, the Yukon Supreme Court ruled that the Yukon government overstepped its authority when it threw out a land-use plan for the Peel that would protect 80 percent of the watershed. The Yukon government announced last January that it would ignore the plan — seven years in the making — in favor of its own plan to open most of the watershed to mining and other development. CPAWS-Yukon then joined the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation in a lawsuit to challenge the government’s action. The court ruling is a resounding victory for those who want the watershed protected.

The Conservation Alliance first supported the Peel protection effort back in 2010, funding CPAWS-Yukon for their participation in the land-use planning process. When the Yukon government tossed out the plan, we then supported the lawsuit that should now reinstate the protective plan. With the court ruling, the government must now go back and implement the original plan, though they may make some limited changes. The judge ruled that the government may not change the amount of land that will be protected. As a result, we are likely to celebrate 13 million acres of new protections sometime in 2015.

The twists and turns in this campaign demonstrate the power of committed, local people advocating for the protection of wild places. CPAWS-Yukon and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation never wavered in their dedication to protecting the Peel. When the government rejected the land-use plan, the conservationists turned to the courts. And won.

We are proud of the role we have played in this effort, and hope to report a final victory in a few months.

National Geographic wrote an excellent summary of the effort when the ruling was announced. Check it out.

Support Colorado’s Browns Canyon

One of our partners working with the Obama Administration asked us to circulate a sign-on letter to our Colorado-based members asking President Obama to use the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon National Monument.  They are seeking support for this action throughout CO to provide a powerful demonstration of the outdoor industry’s support for the monument. The letter will be delivered in early December to Administration officials and to CO Senators Udall and Bennet.

Your company does not need to be based in Colorado to sign this letter in support of Browns Canyon National Monument.  Please show your support by sending your logo and the following information to josie at conservationalliance.com by Tuesday, December 2:

Company Name
Your Name
Title

Background
There is a long history of bi-partisan support for protecting Browns Canyon, locally and statewide. After more than fifteen years of attempts to protect Browns Canyon via legislation, the strategy to protect Browns Canyon shifted to a National Monument Campaign. Recent polling that shows 77% of Coloradans support designating Browns Canyon as a National Monument.

Starting in 2006, The Conservation Alliance funded two organizations, Colorado Environmental Coalition and Conservation Lands Foundation, for their work on Browns Canyon.

Browns Canyon National Monument Opposition
Local Congressman Doug Lamborn has opposed Senators Udall and Bennet’s Browns Canyon legislation, and locals expect that Senator-elect Cory Gardner will join his Republican colleague in opposing the President’s use of the Antiquities Act for the area. One of the three Chaffee County County Commissioners opposes the designation, but the other two (both Republicans) are supportive. There are several vocal grazing permittees and OHV enthusiasts that oppose the designation, even though Senator Udall went out of his way to address their concerns in his legislation and the designation will not change grazing or motorized access in the area. Finally, there are some vocal tea party personalities locally that have expressed concern, mostly along ideological lines. In all, the area enjoys broad support, but there are certain to be voices of dissent about the action that also appear in the media and at local meetings.

Action Alert: Sign a Petition Supporting the Creation of Baja California’s First State Park

#SaveSanMiguel

Save the Waves just launched the #SaveSanMiguel campaign to gather support for the permanent protection of one of the last intact watersheds on the Baja peninsula.  By turning the San Miguel watershed into Baja California’s first state park, the quality and quantity of the drinking water for 400 locals will be secured and 58 hectares will be protected from threats such as sand mining, illegal trash dumping and urban development.  The San Miguel is one of six priority projects identified by the World Surfing Reserves, and is believed to be the first wave ever surfed in Mexico.

Save the Saves and the World Surfing Reserve are gathering 10,000 signatures on a petition asking Baja California’s Governor, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Vegath, to protect the San Miguel.  These signatures will demonstrate international and local support for the creation of San Miguel State Park.

Sign the petition today to show your support for San Miguel.

Patagonia Ambassador Kyle Thiermann and Surfing for Change released this film about the San Miguel and the efforts to protect it:

The Conservation Alliance funded Save the Waves with a $35,000 grant in our Summer 2014 funding cycle. This is the second project in Mexico funded by the Alliance since our inception in 1989.

ONDA Solidifies Critical Local Support for Sutton Mountain

Oregon Natural Desert Association is one step closer to permanent protection in the John Day Basin.

Photo: JDavis

Conservation Alliance grantee, Oregon Natural Desert Association, has cleared an important hurdle and move one step closer to securing protection for a proposal wilderness area in the John Day Basin with the endorsement of two local governments.  When successful, this wilderness proposal will protect roughly 58,000 acres of public land known for spectacular scenery and prime wildlife habitat.

The Wheeler County Court and the Mitchell City Council have both voted unanimously to support a wilderness designation for Sutton Mountain, which neighbors the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in the John Day River Basin.

In casting their supporting votes, local officials cited the economic benefits of the proposal, which also includes transferring a 1,959-acre Bureau of Land Management-owned parcel to Wheeler County. Mitchell, considered the gateway city to Sutton Mountain, endorsed the proposal last week in a 6-0 vote. The Wheeler County Court followed suit this week. With the two key endorsements, wilderness advocates and local stakeholders are optimistic that the proposal will earn the support of the Oregon congressional delegation.

The proposed land transfer, an area near Mitchell known as the Golden Triangle, was at one time private land that is currently administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The parcel contains a historic homestead and was in the past used for agricultural purposes.

“This proposal really is in the best interests of local residents,” Wheeler County Judge Chris Perry said. “It will create economic opportunities through tourism and visitation to the new wilderness. The majority of area residents I’ve heard from are in favor of this plan, and they agree that it will breathe new life into a tired horse.”

“People come to Mitchell already to see the wonder of the Painted Hills,” said Mitchell City Councilor Kerrie Shortt, referring to Travel Oregon’s inclusion of the Painted Hills in its Seven Wonders of Oregon campaign. “But we believe they’ll stay longer when they realize Sutton Mountain is also worth a visit.”

With its see-for-miles vistas, deep canyons and fascinating geology, Sutton Mountain is a gem of the John Day River Basin worth knowing, said Brent Fenty, ONDA’s executive director. It also features prime habitat for elk, mule deer and raptors, as well as plants found nowhere else in the world.

“We’re proud to be part of a collaborative proposal that would respond to the needs of Wheeler County residents and protect one of the most important areas of Oregon’s high desert,” Fenty said.

ONDA will continue working with Wheeler County, the City of Mitchell and other stakeholders to pursue legislation for the proposal.

Learn more about ONDA’s conservation initiative (ONDA.org/SuttonMountain) and the area’s unique characteristics (ONDA.org/SevenWonders) on ONDA’s website.

Clif Bar Raises Money for Winter Wildlands Alliance: #MeetTheMoment

For the month of November, Clif Bar is giving Winter Wildlands Alliance $1 for every Instagram post tagged with #MeetTheMoment.  This giving campaign fueled by Clif Bar is about honoring the magical moments we experience during our outdoor adventures, and giving back to the non-profits who are working to protect the places we love to play.

Winter Wildlands Alliance received a $40,000 grant from The Conservation Alliance in our last funding cycle for their important work in Utah’s Wasatch and Idaho’s Boulder White Clouds mountains.  In Utah, WWA is working to preserve the balance between world renowned resort skiing AND equally renowned, undeveloped backcountry terrain through permanent protection measures. They are seeking conservation easements and management designations for the lands at risk under the new One Wasatch proposal.  In Idaho, WWA is one of the many organizations working to protect 590,000 acres of pristine winter habitat and backcountry recreation terrain in the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains through national monument designation.

Keep your eye out for the limited edition “Adventure Challenges” printed on the back of Clif Bars, tag your photos with #MeetTheMoment and enjoy your adventure!

Project Profile: Permanent Protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountains

Smittle Creek  Photo: Jim Rose

Charlotte Orr is the Media & Communications Manager at Tuleyome. The Conservation Alliance twice-funded Tuleyome’s campaign to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountains as a National Conservation Area or National Monument. 

Background:

Tuleyome, a conservation non-profit working to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of the Northern Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley is working to protect over 350,000 acres of federal public lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. This area is the crown jewel of Northern California’s wild Inner Coast Range.

These public lands stretch nearly one hundred miles from the shores of Lake Berryessa to the flanks of Snow Mountain. The area includes thriving blue oak woodlands, Shasta red fir forests, creek side habitat, an annual explosion of wildflowers, nearly half of California’s dragonfly species, a wealth of butterflies, river otters, trout, tule elk, deer, mountain lions, bears, osprey, and provides habitat to California’s second largest population of wintering bald eagles. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region has botanical biodiversity that makes it the center of the California global hot spot.

Campaign Progress:

Legislation to protect the area as a National Conservation Area was introduced in 2011, but due to a lame duck session in congress, it had to be reintroduced the following year. Backers of the legislation in the house and senate include Senator Barbara Boxer, and Representatives Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, and Jared Huffman.

With 2014 coming to a close, Congressman Mike Thompson has pronounced a call for action: if congress will not protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, then President Obama should.

During his January State of the Union Address, President Obama made a promise to use his authority to protect more of the country’s magnificent federal public lands for the benefit of future generations.

Protecting the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region will not only help future, but also current generations by boosting tourism which will help local economies and improve recreation opportunities for the public. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is a popular destination for those who enjoy going outside to hike, horseback ride, and hunt, camp, fish, bird watch, use motorized vehicles on designated routes, enjoy both motorized and non-motorized boating, water recreation, and more.

Communities Taking Action:

By October, 2014 over 100 local businesses and more than 43,000 individuals have taken a stand to support permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region and the list continues to grow.

Many nationally recognized conservation, recreation and sportsmen groups have also voiced support for the designation, including the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Trout Unlimited, Back Country Horsemen, the Equine Land Conservation Resource, and many more. The Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national group that champions responsible off-road recreation is also supportive as long as the Monument designation captures the recreation access tenets in the legislation and public narratives.

Permanent protection of these federal public lands will improve coordination between federal agencies, help adjustments to climate change, keep our water clean and provide additional federal funding opportunities for conservation management, invasive species eradication, and recreational enhancement.

Take Action! How You Can Help:

Ask President Obama to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. Go to our website at www.berryessasnowmountain.org or click here to fill out an online postcard of support!

Adirondack Park Action Alert

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting comments on how to amend the State Land Master Plan. All publicly–owned Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack Park are managed based on this document.  Between now and December 5th, you can submit your recommendation for how these lands should be managed.

The primary goal of the Master Plan is to ensure “protection and preservation of the natural resources.”  Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what it means to preserve and protect natural resources. Other interests be making recommendations to expand motorized use on certain lands, weakening the protections currently outlined in the Master Plan.

Our recent grantee, Adirondack Council, put together a list of recommendations our members should send to the APA.  In your own words, please tell them:

  1. The State Land Master Plan must continue to uphold the protection and preservation of natural resources as paramount.
  2. You support protecting and expanding principles of Wilderness to protect water quality and wildlife, provide for solitude and unique recreational opportunities and to support sustainable tourism and vibrant communities.
  3. You support the state’s commitment to the protection of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness and Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Areas as motor-free.
  4. What you value most about the Adirondacks and that the State Land Master Plan should protect those values.

Please send comments in your own words to:

Deputy Director, Planning
Kathy Regan
PO Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Email – PublicComment@apa.ny.gov

MEC, KEEN Canada and CPAWS Raising Money to Protect Threatened Habitats

weekforthewild

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and KEEN Canada are working with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to raise money during “WEEK for the WILD,” a campaign to increase awareness of species and risk, and the need to protect their threatened habitat. MEC and Keen each pledged to contributed up to $2,000 in matching donations to help raise money for the campaign.

The featured habitat for the woodland caribou is Yukon’s Peel Watershed, a project funded four times by The Conservation Alliance. The woodland caribou was once found everywhere in North America, but today they are confined primarily to Canada’s northern Boreal Forest. The Peel Land Use Planning Commission recommended protecting 80% of the Peel Watershed, allowing for careful development of the remaining 20%. CPAWS is encouraging the government to adopt this plan in order to permanently protect this watershed, a critical habitat for the woodland caribou.

If CPAWS meets the $4,000 fundraising goal, the CEO’s of both MEC and Keen Canada will dress up as CPAWS mascots on Halloween, the last day of the campaign.  We are proud to see these members working with CPAWS on this creative campaign, and we look forward to posting photos of Bou the caribou and Baleen the humpback whale.

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