October Letter from the Editor: Conservation, Now

I am proud to announce that Elevation Outdoors joined the Conservation Alliance this summer. Never heard of the Conservation Alliance?

That’s no surprise if you don’t work in the business of the outdoor industry. But it’s also a damn shame, because, in my opinion, The Conservation Alliance is doing vital work if you care about preserving the wild places where we love to play, meditate, walk, raise our children, find solace… those endangered places that give us peace because we simply know that they are there and that provide a sanctuary for the natural rhythms of ecosystems. It turns out that these places have no voice in our political system, mostly because they have no cash. But we can speak out for them, and it turns out that the brands that make all the high-tech gear we buy can help.

The Conservation Alliance was formed 25 years ago when leaders from Patagonia, The North Face, REI and Kelty came together with the purpose of helping fund the hard-fought efforts of grassroots environmental organizations. In short, the goal of this new non-profit was to give money to the folks in the trenches so they could compete against powerful, destructive industries with deep pockets, influential lobbyists and cunning PR campaigns. It’s one of the few times when even the most cynical of outdoor industry critics can nod in approval. The money we spend on all the junk we haul out into the backcountry can actually make some difference.

Over the last quarter century the Conservation Alliance has grown to over 185 member companies, including manufacturers, retailers, media, sales reps and others who make their living connected to wild places. We pay dues based on our revenue. Those dues translate into grants that are awarded to environmental groups by The Conservation Alliance. (If your grassroots environmental organization needs cash for a project or campaign, you can read about how to apply here: conservationalliance.com/grants). Since its foundation, the organization (and the companies that pay dues) have given $13 million to hard-working conservation groups, helping to protect 42 million acres, 2,825 miles of rivers, stop the building of or remove 26 dams, designate five marine reserves and purchase nine climbing areas. This year, we hope to give out $1.65 million in grants.

In our state, that cash has helped groups like Conservation Colorado and the Colorado Mountain Club, and recently ensured that the Western Rivers Conservancy could protect protect 1,169 acres and 11 river miles within the Dominguez‐Escalante National Conservation Area along the Gunnison River. It just empowered the Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition to acquire a 310 acre crag. It is helping the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative oppose the building of a new dam on British Columbia’s Peace River and fight to protect 1 million acres of the Sacred Headwaters, the pristine lands of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.

This is not easy work. Conservation Alliance executive director John Sterling and other members headed to Washington, D.C., last month to try to make themselves heard in the white noise of political partisan infighting. They lobbied for these places that have no voice in the venal halls of Congress and they discussed the creation of new national monuments, including Brown’s Canyon here in Colorado. Thanks to the generosity, will and passion of the businesses and people who support us, there may be some hope that we can keep these places from corporate looters. But
it doesn’t just have to be the outdoor industry that supports us. Please, learn more about the Conservation Alliance and support our efforts.

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