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WE SUPPORT: The Conservation Alliance

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
We take a large amount of pride in our history of outspoken advocacy for conservation and access causes, as well as in our support of conservation, education and recreation groups on the front lines.

Conservation AllianceBlack Diamond and our founder/CEO Peter Metcalf have a long history of advocating not only for conservation of natural spaces and resources, but also for outdoor companies to band together in these efforts to achieve a greater good. It's no surprise then that The Conservation Alliance is a group we support. We caught up with Serena Bishop Gordon, a Conservation Alliance program associate, to find out more about the organization and its roots.

How did the Conservation Alliance come to be?

The Alliance was founded in 1989 by industry leaders REI, Patagonia, The North Face and Kelty. They shared the goal of increasing outdoor industry support for conservation efforts. We now have more than 185 member companies, and plan to disperse $1.5 million in 2013.

Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed close to $12 million to grassroots conservation groups throughout North America. The results of our funding have been remarkable. Alliance funding has helped save more than 42 million acres of wildlands, protected 2,748 miles of rivers, stopped or removed 25 dams, designated five marine reserves and purchased nine climbing areas. We follow a rigorous grant proposal review process that ensures our grants go to organizations that can succeed given the necessary financial resources.

Have the goals or focus of Conservation Alliance evolved over time?

Our mission to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for habitat and recreation values has been constant and laser-focused since the beginning. Over the years, we have worked to expand our membership-now including more than 185 outdoor industry companies-and increase our advocacy efforts on behalf of the campaigns that we fund.

What are some current goals for the Conservation Alliance?

We are constantly working to build our membership, in order to increase our grant fund. Membership dues are 100 percent pass through: additional membership equates to additional funding. By 2014, our goal is to grant at least $2 million annually to organizations working to protect wild places in North America.

Has the Conservation Alliance notched any key successes in the recent past?

In 2013 we have already notched four important sucesses:

  • Alaska Wilderness League and Audubon Alaska (11 million acres protected): We celebrated the release of the Interior Department's final management plan for the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. This first ever plan for the reserve will guide management of the area, including energy development and conservation. The final plan calls for protection of key habitat and recreation areas within the reserve totaling a staggering 11 million acres. Two Conservation Alliance grantees, Alaska Wilderness League and Audubon Alaska, played a key role in securing this success.
  • Downeast Lakes Land Trust  (21,870 acres protected): The Downeast Lakes Land Trust and the State of Maine announced the purchase of a conservation easement on the 21,870 acres West Grand Lake Forest. The property wraps around the village of Grand Lake Stream, and is adjacent to other conservation lands, including the land trust's 33,708 acre Farm Cove Community Forest. These lands are in a broader landscape of nearly 1.4 million contiguous acres of public and private conservation lands extending across the border into New Brunswick, Canada. The West Grand Lake Forest conservation easement includes 17 miles of shoreline on three different lakes. This easement purchase extends the option agreement between the land trust and Lyme Timber Company through 2015, providing the time needed to raise the additional funds required to purchase the property outright.
  • Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (1 million acres protected): The British Columbia government announced that Shell Oil will withdraw its plans to develop coal bed methane in the Sacred Headwaters in northwest British Columbia. The government also announced that it will not issue oil and gas leases in the area in the future. This decision protects one million acres of wild lands that are the source of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine Rivers, three of British Columbia's most productive salmon streams. Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition was leading this successes fight to protect 1 million acres.

  • Vermont Land Trust (1,100 acres protected): The Vermont Land Trust announced in March of 2013 that they had been successful in securing the funding needed to purchase and conserve 1,100 acres of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry land. Later this spring, the parcel will be transferred to the State of Vermont as an addition to the Mount Mansfield State Forest.

How does Black Diamond support the Conservation Alliance?

Black Diamond has been a Conservation Alliance member since 2005, contributing annual membership to The Conservation Alliance grant fund and helping to support the efforts of our grantees through sign-on letters, trips to Washington, D.C., and speaking up and acting as model for conservation within the Outdoor Industry. Black Diamond also hosts fundraising events at the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow and has been instrumental to the success of the Backyard Collective Project Events hosted in Salt Lake City.

How important is that support?

The support The Conservation Alliance receives from Black Diamond is invaluable; and it isn't just the check that is sent our way each year. Black Diamond walks the talk, they stand up for what they believe in, and they stand strong on their position even when it is the hard thing to do. Black Diamond has stood up against the development and sale of public lands in Utah and continues to do so; because it is good for outdoor enthusiasts, it is good for the environment, and it is good for business.

For more information on the Conservation Alliance or to see their list of grantees, click here.

Photos below by Tom Till, Peter Mather, Howie Garber and Jerry Dodrill