Grantee Update: The Missouri River Breaks, Intact and Wholly Unbroken

Photo Credit:  Charlie Bulla

The Conservation Alliance awarded Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership a $35,000 grant in April 2017 to support their “Safeguarding the Wild Backcountry of the Missouri River Breaks Campaign” to protect at least 100,000 acres of wild, publically-owned lands in Montana by June, 2018 as Backcountry Conservation Areas through the BLM Lewistown Resource Management Plan. Scott Laird, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Montana field rep, explains why conservation is our best bet at keeping central Montana unspoiled. 

The Missouri Breaks region of central Montana is one of the most unique landscapes in the West. The unusual topography and eroded soils—shaped by the river below and centuries of severe weather—make it a land of extremes. Yet it provides some of the best views, most outstanding recreation, and most abundant wildlife habitat in the country. Rough and rugged coulees descend into dense pockets of ponderosa pine and juniper stands before gradually reaching the cottonwood galleries that line the Missouri River.

These undeveloped backcountry lands still mirror what Lewis and Clark saw as they pushed their way upriver in 1805. We have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to ensure that they remain that way.

A Critical Time to Speak Up

Wildlife and wild places are being increasingly pressured through the loss and fragmentation of quality habitat from energy extraction and residential development. This trend needs to be halted to protect our highly valued undeveloped landscapes. Already, much of the western and eastern stretches of the Missouri have been industrialized, dammed, or otherwise developed. But the central portion of the river—roughly from Fort Benton to Fort Peck Reservoir in Montana—remains largely untouched.

The region supports world-class habitat for elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep, and the Missouri provides scenic multi-day fishing trips for anglers. Camping, hunting, hiking, and biking in the Breaks region are hard to beat, and stargazers will tell you that it’s difficult to find a place with less light pollution.

Most of this landscape is made up of public land that belongs to all of us and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On the south side of the Missouri, where the breaks climb and meet the rugged grasslands, the BLM is in the process of updating its resource management plan.

This is a planning document that outlines the management of several hundred thousand acres of BLM lands for the next 20 years or more. This is also a public planning process that provides a unique and critical opportunity to protect some of the best wildlife habitat and most remote public lands in the country from further fragmentation and development.

Momentum Grows

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership recognizes the importance of these lands to wildlife, outdoor recreationists, and sportsmen. The political landscape and threats to the region have changed since the last resource management plan was written some 30 years ago, and sportsmen and women are ready to act.

Nearly 1,000 individuals and local stakeholders have delivered collaborative support for the adoption of a common-sense approach for conserving high-value public lands through backcountry conservation management. By utilizing this tool, the BLM would safeguard large intact habitats from development, maintain and improve important dispersed recreation opportunities, and focusing management on the conservation, restoration, and enhancement of key habitats, all while sustaining traditional uses of the land that help support local economies.

 What’s Next?

The draft of the resource management plan is expected to be released for public comment in late 2017. Visit to be the first to know about your opportunity to get involved.

Conservation of this unique landscape won’t happen on its own. It takes strong voices to protect these areas from future fragmentation and development. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “a nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.” Here’s a great chance for us to do just that.

Photo Credit: Charlie Bulla

Secretary Zinke’s National Monument Review: What to Expect Next

Baldy Peak and La Cueva seen from Baylor Canyon Road, west side of the Organ Mountains, 32.344 -106.614, Doña Ana County, New Mexico, 23 May 2005.

It has been a whirlwind of a summer. On April 26th 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order requiring Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to critically review 27 national monuments over 300,000 acres in size and designated after January 1996, to determine if their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. Secretary Zinke was ordered to deliver a final report by August 24th, recommending which monuments should be altered and which should remain unchanged. For nearly ten weeks, Zinke and the Department of Interior hosted an open comment period soliciting feedback from the American public. To say our community engaged in this process would be an understatement. We stood up for the foundation of our businesses, the backbone of our industry, the fuel to our adventures and the wildness in our collective DNA. We proudly stood up for the integrity of our country’s best idea: Our Public Lands.

In a time of political uncertainty, our ability to come together to advocate for something we all believe in is inspiring. Trump’s Executive Order and Zinke’s response to it catalyzed our community into action and unleashed a level of support for our public lands that America has never seen before.

In three short months, Conservation Alliance members, partners, friends and fellow American’s put forth an incredible effort to voice their support for public lands loudly and clearly. Since May 12th: :

Conservation Alliance members, in particular, rose to the challenge and put forth an unprecedented public display of support for our wild places. These are just some examples of the many actions taken:


We are on the eve Secretary Zinke’s final national monument report. Will our voices have been heard? Will our national monuments remain intact? We won’t have a clear indication until the report has been released, but there are some consistent hypotheses. There is general consensus that at least eight monuments are at risk for recommended changes, these include:  Cascade-Siskiyou; Gold Butte; Basin and Range; Organ Mountains Desert Peaks; Grand Staircase Escalante; Bears Ears; Katahdin Woods and Waters; and Papahanaumokuakea, a marine national monument. Please note this list has not been confirmed by the Department of Interior. How these monuments are changed is still up for debate, but three methods seem likely:

  1. Zinke recommends that Trump use executive action to change national monument boundaries, or rescind them entirely.

Some even believe Trump will immediately exercise executive action to rescind or alter certain monuments. Legal experts believe that executive action to alter an existing national monument is illegal and would be followed by years of litigation.

  1. Zinke recommends a mixture of executive and congressional actions.

Under this scenario, Zinke would recommend that Trump take executive action on certain monuments, and recommend that Congress reshape others. Congressional actions could include things like redefining a monument’s boundary or changing its designation from National Monument to something like a National Conservation Area, which would decrease the level of protection for the landscape.

  1. Zinke puts the ball entirely in Congress’ court, and leaves it to our Senators and Congressional Representatives to redraw or un-do our National Monuments.

Unfortunately we have yet to find an expert who thinks all of the monuments under review will escape the process without a recommended alteration. To date, Zinke has indicated six national monuments have been spared, including: Grand Canyon-Parashant; Canyons of the Ancients; Craters of the Moon; Upper Missouri River Breaks; and Hanford Reach.


The short answer is: Not back down. The Conservation Alliance has, and always will, oppose any effort to change the boundaries of existing national monuments through executive action.

We have a 28-year history of supporting grassroots groups working to secure permanent protections for wild places. Since 1999 we’ve made 25 grants totaling $765,000 to 13 different groups whose work was instrumental in protecting ten of the monuments under review. It is in our interest, and the interest of our members, to defend them.

In January of this year we launched our Public Lands Defense Fund. A new, fluid and board administered fund that exists to defend previous Presidents’ National Monument designations, defend our bedrock conservation laws, and oppose the proposed transfer of federal lands to the states or to private hands. We have $120k remaining in this fund for 2017 and anticipate it will be spent on preserving existing national monuments.

We stand ready to formally engage in the defense of our national monuments in the form of public statements, organizing, and grantmaking to grassroots groups working to uphold these places. We look forward to offering many opportunities to join us in these efforts through letters, social media campaigns, lobby visits, and more.

Thanks for joining us and standing up for our Public Lands! We are all in this together.

Promoboxx Supports The Conservation Alliance Mission Through Partnership


We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Promoboxx, the only brand-to-retailer commerce platform that connects and aligns national brands with independent, specialty retailers to drive local awareness and sales. Through this partnership, The Conservation Alliance will utilize Promoboxx to provide more than 200 member companies with stories about land and water conservation opportunities across North America. Collectively, these companies will raise awareness about the importance of protecting wild places for future generations by sharing these stories with millions of social media followers.

Promoboxx currently works with a variety of outdoor brands who are current members of The Conservation Alliance, including Arc’teryx, KEEN, Salomon, and Superfeet. These national manufacturing brands partner with Promoboxx to connect and align with independent, specialty retailers to increase their local awareness and sales. The platform enables national brands to easily and effectively provide brand-approved content and campaigns to their specialty retailers. Retailers, in turn, promote the brand content across their digital and social channels to drive local awareness and sales. The Conservation Alliance is extending Promoboxx in a brand new model that provides content that their outdoor brand members can then share across their own digital and social channels.

The Conservation Alliance will leverage the Promoboxx platform to connect, align, and distribute their digital content and campaigns to more than 200 member organizations. This partnership will help The Conservation Alliance grow the visibility of their content and mission and strengthen their member community. Through Promoboxx, members can share and promote grant announcements, actionable campaigns, and celebrate conservation victories across their digital networks. By using Promoboxx, the member outreach process is streamlined and brands can publish content from The Conservation Alliance easily through a single platform.

All Conservation Alliance members are invited to access and share Conservation Alliance content using Promoboxx.  Click here to sign up.

“We were looking for an easy way to provide social media content to our member companies,” said Josie Norris, Program Manager at The Conservation Alliance. “Two Conservation Alliance board members introduced me to Promoboxx after having great success with the platform. Sharing conservation stories and actionable campaigns using Promoboxx will undoubtedly support our advocacy efforts and help us recruit new companies to join The Conservation Alliance, both of which will help add new protected areas to the map in the coming years.”

“Promoboxx is thrilled to partner with The Conservation Alliance,” said Ben Carcio, CEO and Co-Founder at Promoboxx. “The outdoor industry is one that Promoboxx works closely with, and we are so impressed by the work that The Conservation Alliance has done to defend and protect lands and wildlife across America. The Conservation Alliance’s mission of protecting and restoring America’s wild places is one that we appreciate, and we look forward to supporting The Conservation Alliance as they continue to do great work that matters.”

To view how Promoboxx connects and aligns brands with their local retailers to increase local awareness and sales, check out the lookbook recognizing the top digital campaigns of the year or visit

About Promoboxx

Promoboxx is the only brand-to-retailer commerce platform that connects and aligns national brands with independent, speciality retailers to drive local awareness and sales. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Promoboxx partners with leading brands in the outdoor, footwear, auto, appliance, flooring, animal nutrition, and hearing aid industries. Within the outdoor industry, Promoboxx works with Smartwool, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, Keen, Salomon, Wigwam, Osprey Packs, and more. Additional information is available at

2017 Outstanding Partnership Awards

The Conservation Alliance 2017 Outstanding Partnership Awards recognize three member companies who go above and beyond in their support of and relationship building with Conservation Alliance grantees. Each year, awards are granted to member companies with the purpose of rewarding and encouraging direct engagement between member companies and grantees in efforts to move forward Conservation Alliance funded projects. The 2017 awards were given to Kahtoola, Kelty, and Zappos.

Kahtoola played a huge role in helping Grand Canyon Wildlands Council with their Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Campaign. Founder and owner Danny Giovale stepped up in every imaginable form, from op-eds, DC calls and fly-ins, presenting the proposal to local business leaders, and exploring and filming, to being title sponsor of the inaugural RumbleX event. Kahtoola is a powerhouse of support.

Kelty has helped amplify the Conservation Colorado message by hosting lunch-and-learn events with their staff, helping recruit volunteers, and signing a letter of support for the Continental Divide Campaign. Kelty helped Conservation Colorado reach their goals of outreach and engagement by sharing content on social media and recruiting supporters.

Zappos helped Friends of Nevada Wilderness and Friends of Gold Butte move the Gold Butte National Monument Campaign forward. Zappos is a large employer in Las Vega and worked in collaboration with KEEN to make the Gold Butte campaign more welcoming to other Nevada based businesses – showcasing the economic benefit of protected public land on local economies.

A special thanks to Conservation Alliance member Kiitella for donating the awards.

Six New Members Join the Leading Edge Program

Nasisse_Conservstion Alliance (8 of 19)

We’re pleased to welcome six new members to our Leading Edge program.  This program provides individuals with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to support The Conservation Alliance’s efforts to protect wild places throughout North America for their recreation and habitat values.  Members of The Leading Edge have committed to contributing $5,000 to The Conservation Alliance annually for a minimum of three years. Most are either founders of The Conservation Alliance, or have served on the organization’s board of directors. The initial Leading Edgers are: Yvon Chouinard; Steve and Nona Barker; Sally McCoy; Peter Metcalf; Adam Forest; Rory Fuerst; Matt Hyde; Steve Meineke; Steve Rendle; Kirk Richardson; and Casey Sheahan.

Our new 2017 Leading Edge members include:

  • Bill Kulczycki
  • Rose Marcario
  • Michael Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren
  • Todd Spaletto
  • Jerry Stritzke
  • Beaver and Pam Theodosakis

The Leading Edge is now open to anyone who is interested in supporting The Conservation Alliance. Donors may direct their contributions to either the organization’s grant fund (to directly support conservation projects), or to the discretionary fund (to help cover The Conservation Alliance’s lean operating expenses).  Please contact John Sterling (john at to learn more.

Ruffwear Contributes $50,000 to Public Lands Defense Fund


Ruffwear has contributed $50,000 to The Conservation Alliance to support the organization’s efforts to protect and defend public lands in the United States. The Conservation Alliance will direct the funds into its new Public Lands Defense Fund, created by the organization to preserve and defend the integrity of our public lands system.

The Bend, Oregon-based manufacturer of performance dog gear is a long-time member of The Conservation Alliance, and is committed to preserving open lands and waterways, providing important habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for humans and canines.

The Conservation Alliance established the Public Lands Defense Fund (PLDF) in January 2017 to safeguard the integrity of our public lands in the face of dramatic proposals at the federal and state levels that would undermine those lands.

“We are grateful to Ruffwear for demonstrating such leadership in our shared effort to protect and defend public lands,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “These lands are the backbone of outdoor recreation in America.”

The Conservation Alliance makes grants from the PLDF to support conservation organizations working to defend public lands. President Trump recently ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 26 national monuments designated since 1996 to determine whether they should be reduced in size, or rescinded entirely. The PLDF has already funded nine organizations to defend national monuments in Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. The fund has also supported efforts to prevent the transfer of public lands to private ownership in Oregon, and to oppose legislation that would undermine bedrock environmental laws.

“We believe in serving our community and protecting wild places,” said Ruffwear President Will Blount. “Many of the moments we cherish most with our dogs take place on our public lands. The Conservation Alliance is doing critical work to safeguard public lands and waterways, and this donation is our contribution to that effort to ensure that future generations of pups and people will be able to experience America’s natural treasures.”

The Conservation Alliance will contribute at least $255,000 from the PLDF in 2017. All companies and individuals are welcome to contribute to the fund. The PLDF supplements the organization’s regular funding program, which, since 1989, has supported efforts to secure new protections for wild places throughout North America. In 2017, The Conservation Alliance will make grants totaling $1.6 million from that regular grant program.


3,000 Outdoor Industry Folks March to UT’s Capitol

On July 27th, 2017, during the final Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, 3,000 outdoor industry business owners, outdoor enthusiasts, friends and colleagues marched to the Utah state capitol to show their support for our shared public lands.

Ten inspiring speakers greeted marches at the steps of the capitol with a rally, encouraging our community to keep celebrating and keep fighting for our country’s most precious resource: our shared public lands.

Speakers included:

  • Amy Roberts, Executive Director, OIA
  • Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee member and founding member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
  • Adam Cramer, Executive Director, Outdoor Alliance
  • Conrad Anker, Captain of The North Face Global Athlete Team
  • Jerry Stritzke. CEO of REI
  • Blake Spalding, Owner, Hells Backbone Grill
  • Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City Mayor
  • Amy Roberts with Mayor Biskupski and Tom Adams, Utah Director of Outdoor Recreation
  • John Sterling, Executive Director, The Conservation Alliance

The same day, The Conservation Alliance supported five grantees to lead concurrent public lands marches and rallies in five other locations across the West. Those included:

  • Oregon Natural Desert Association: Bend, OR
  • Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center: Medford, OR
  • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance: Las Cruces, NM
  • Winter Wildlands Alliance: Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness: Ely, MN

Thanks to everyone who participated – both in spirit and in person!

Cheers to WZRD Media for capturing the march.

Visit our facebook page for more march photos!


Grantees Deliver Nine Conservation Victories


In April 2016, The Conservation Alliance invested $820,000 in grassroots conservation organizations. Each grant went to a project working to secure permanent protection for a specific threatened wild place.  We direct organizations to use our funding over the course of a 12-month period. At the end of the grant period, we ask each group for a final report. These reports play a key role in helping us determine the return on our investment.

Conservation Alliance grantees funded in the last 12 months reported nine conservation victories, permanently protecting 3,700,615 acres, 107 river miles and one climbing area.

On April 1, we received 24 final reports. Following is a summary of the progress our grantees have made with our funding. At the end of the summary are several exciting updates on work we funded in October 2016. We will share final reports on all of our October 2016 grants in October 2017.

Download the complete report summary here.

Monuments Matter: Our Formal Response to Monument Review, MS-1530

This is an image I shot in May atop Blue Ridge, west of Vacaville, California.  The setting sun provided some really nice colors that evening, and the long focal length and atmosphere brought out the blues and purples in the mountains.

Some scenes are just difficult to convey with a photograph.  I remember standing there with the breeze going, amazed at the layers that were illuminated.  Photographs bring the visual elements to the viewer, but what they fail to bring is the breeze, the temperature, the movement, the smell, the sounds, and the view/story behind the camera.  Video adds a few of those, but it also has limitations.  This was one of those evenings that I wish I could just transport viewers from their computer, to the top of Blue Ridge.      

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 100-400L @190mm
1/10 second exposure @ F8
Singh-Ray 3 stop reverse hard grad filter
This is one single image @ ISO 50

The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of investing in efforts to protect public lands for their habitat and recreation values. In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years to determine whether their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. The Conservation Alliance actively supported 10 of the 27 monuments under review.

Below is our formal comment submitted under Monument Review, MS-1530:

June 29, 2017

The Honorable Secretary Ryan Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Monument Review, MS-1530

Dear Secretary Zinke,

On behalf of our membership, thank you for the opportunity to provide comment to Monument Review, MS-1530. The Conservation Alliance is a group of more than 200 outdoor industry and enthusiast companies nationwide that manufacture and sell products for use and enjoyment in the outdoors. As engaged stakeholders that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we strongly oppose any executive action that would reduce or rescind any national monument under review.

We have already submitted comments specific to your review of the Bears Ears National Monument, so this submission focuses on the other monuments under review. The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of supporting conservation efforts that benefit outdoor recreation. During that time, our 200+ member companies have invested their time and financial resources in efforts to secure protection for ten of the terrestrial monuments currently under review:

  • Bears Ears National Monument
  • Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument
  • Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
  • Gold Butte National Monument
  • Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
  • Mojave Trails National Monument
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
  • San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
  • Sand to Snow National Monument
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

Together, these monuments preserve world-class outdoor recreation, important wildlife habitat, and sensitive cultural artifacts and archaeological sites. These landscapes are among the special protected places that make the Western United States unique. Cherished by people who live nearby, and by those who visit from far away, our national monuments are an essential chapter in our American story. They provide rare opportunities for adventure, inspiration, and solace. They are also an important economic driver.

National monuments are a key asset for the outdoor recreation economy. The customers of our member companies – hikers, climbers, skiers, backpackers, paddlers, mountain bikers, hunters, and anglers – need protected landscapes to use the products our members make and sell. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in direct consumer spending, and supports 7.6 million jobs nationwide. Each of the national monuments under review contributes to this economic activity.

In addition to their contributions to the outdoor recreation economy, national monuments drive economic activity in communities near these landscapes. A recent study of 17 national monuments by Headwaters Economics found that the local economies surrounding each of the monuments grew following the monument designation. Population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income all increased in these communities after creation of the monuments. The study also found no evidence that the new national monuments prevented economic growth.

Beyond the economic benefits they offer, national monuments are overwhelmingly supported by Americans nationwide. This review has triggered one of the largest outpouring of support for our protected public lands that our country has ever seen. To date, well over one million people have submitted comments, and the overwhelming majority, over 95%, urge you to keep the monument boundaries as they are. With this letter, we add our voice to that wave of support.

The process that led to the designation of these monuments was thorough and transparent. Local residents, outdoor enthusiasts, businesses, chambers of commerce, and elected officials took the opportunity to weigh in on proposed protections after years of negotiation. Thank you for reviewing the decades of hard work and thoughtful consideration that culminated in the designation of the national monuments under review. We are confident that any serious review of these places will confirm that their boundaries are appropriate, and that previous Presidents did the right thing by protecting these special landscapes.

We look forward to working with you to steward America’s greatest public land treasures in a manner that allows future generations of Americans to enjoy these wild places. Our national monuments are national treasures and preserving their existing boundaries is an investment in our future.


John Sterling
Executive Director

Welcoming New Staff and Board Members

Left to Right: Kirsten Blackburn, Tyler LaMotte and Mary Maliff

The Conservation Alliance board elected Tyler LaMotte, VP of Global Brand Marketing at KEEN, Inc., and Mary Maliff, Director at The Forest Group to serve on our board of directors. LaMotte was elected by the board of directors to fill an unexpected vacancy, while The Conservation Alliance membership elected Maliff during an annual board election.

Tyler and Mary bring exciting fresh blood to The Conservation Alliance, and we will benefit from the broad range of experience that they bring to the table. Tyler’s term began in May, and Mary’s term will begin on July 25, 2017.

In addition to the new board members, Kirsten Blackburn joined The Conservation Alliance as the new Advocacy Program Manager. Kirsten previously worked at KEEN, Inc. where she played a lead role in the company’s Live Monumental campaign. Kirsten also served on The Conservation Alliance board. In her new role, Kirsten will lead will lead our efforts to educate and engage member companies on public lands issues.

These additions to the staff and board come at a time when America’s public lands are threatened by proposals by the Trump Administration and members of Congress to undermine long-standing protections for our special wild places.

We are fortunate to operate in an industry that cherishes our wildlands and rivers, and to work with talented people like Tyler, Mary, and Kirsten who are so committed to our mission.

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