Numerology: The Conservation Alliance

If you don’t work in the outdoor industry, you may not have heard of The Conservation Alliance. That’s a shame, because the group makes an incredible impact helping out grassroots conservation organizations where they need it most: It provides them funding to get the hard work of fighting for wild places done in the trenches. The Conservation Alliance gathers its cash through membership dues, supplied from outdoor brands ranging from The North Face to the Revolution House Media, as well as other fundraisers. It then funds grantees who face stiff challenges squaring off extractive industries, developers and other private interests with deep pockets. If you work in the outdoor industry, you certainly know The Conservation Alliance, thanks to fundraisers and its “Arrive Tired, Leave Inspired” breakfasts at the Outdoor Retailer trade show that have featured speakers including Terry Tempest Williams, Craig Childs and Jonathan Waterman. Read on for a deep dive into this important organization’s work.



Current members of the Conservation Alliance, including Elevation Outdoors and Blue Ridge Outdoors magazines. Interested businesses of any size can apply to join Annual dues range from $500 to $15,000 depending on a business’s annual revenues—it’s relatively easy for small brands to join.


The minimum amount seven “Pinnacle Members”—Clif Bar, Columbia, Keen, Merrell, Patagonia, REI and The North Face—contribute to The Conservation Alliance each year.


River miles protected with help from The Conservation Alliance funding since 1989.


Advocacy Trips to Washington D.C. in 2017. On these trips, The Conservation Alliance staff, board and members meet directly with lawmakers to discuss conservation issues.


People who marched with The Conservation Alliance to the Utah state capitol from the Outdoor Retailer show last month to rally for public lands. Speakers at the event included The Conservation Alliance’s John Sterling Ute tribe members and mountaineer/activist Conrad Anker.


Backyard Collective events so far and on tap for 2017. The Conservation Alliance Backyard Collective events put member company employees and other volunteers out in the field, doing trail work and other conservation projects. Find info on attending the events here:


Full-time Conservation Alliance staff members. They are executive director John Sterling, program director Serena Bishop Gordon, communications and grant program manager Josie Norris and advocacy program manager Kristen Blackburn.


Acres protected with help from The Conservation Alliance funding since 1989.


Total funding The ConservationAlliance has provided to 90 projects in the Rockies since 2015.


Total funding provided in Colorado, via seven grants since 2015.


The year outdoor industry brands REI, Patagonia, The North Face and Kelty came together to found The Conservation Alliance. Each initially donated $10,000, which they passed to Idaho’s Friends of the Payette to stop a dam construction. Membership expanded to 10 more companies by 1990. By 2002, The Conservation Alliance had 54 members and hired former Patagonia Director of Environmental Programs John Sterling as its executive director.


Amount of funding The Conservation Alliance has awarded to 229 grantees across North America since its inception. In 2016, it granted 43 organizations a total of $1.61 million, including a $50,000 grant to Boulder’s Access Fund to acquire the 360-acre Homestead climbing area in Arizona. The CA plans to distribute $1.85 million in grants in 2017 and hopes to build its annual grants to $2 million.

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