Bass Pro Shops Joins Columbia Sportswear and The Ocean Foundation to Support Seagrass Conservation Through Education and Habitat Restoration

Bass Pro Shops has joined Columbia Sportswear Company and The Ocean Foundation in their efforts to protect and restore seagrass meadows.
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WASHINGTON -- Bass Pro Shops has joined Columbia Sportswear Company and The Ocean Foundation in their efforts to protect and restore seagrass meadows.

"Seagrass health is critical to everyone who depends on the water for their livelihood and recreation," said Larry Whiteley, Bass Pro Shops. "As one of the largest boat manufacturers and outdoor retailers in the nation, we look forward to educating boaters about the importance of seagrass as well as how to safely navigate through seagrass meadows."

Bass Pro Shops and Columbia Sportswear are proud to publicly demonstrate their support of the SeaGrass Grow campaign through the release of a special collection of Columbia's Performance Fishing Gear. This apparel collection will be available for purchase to the public on June 2, 2010 at the following Bass Pro Shops locations; Islamorada, Miami, and Fort Meyers. In addition, Columbia Sportswear and Bass Pro Shops are providing direct financial support to the SeaGrass Grow campaign including sponsorship of a seagrass restoration demonstration project with The Ocean Foundation in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary located 3 miles from the dock at World Wide Sportsman.

"We are honored that two of the most respected names in the outdoor industry have partnered to support this dynamic program," said Mark J. Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation. "Their combined ability to educate consumers about the importance of seagrass beds in protecting our oceans and our planet will truly elevate this critical issue. Their active support of conservation and restoration demonstrates their commitment to healthy fisheries and aquatic ecosystems."

This partnership is very timely considering the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It brings to light just how important it is to repair and protect the seagrass beds, so they are resilient in the face of threats such as oil spills.

Columbia Sportswear Company and The Ocean Foundation launched their support efforts online (www.columbia.com/seagrass) on March 9, 2010 in conjunction with Seagrass Awareness Month in the state of Florida. In addition, Columbia has provided an initial donation of $10,000 to enhance the SeaGrass Grow campaign. Columbia also provided another $10,000 donation to help sponsor the seagrass restoration project in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Seagrass beds are home to dozens of animals, including fish, shellfish, eels, and seahorses; in fact, 70% of marine life is dependent on seagrass at some stage in their life cycle. Seagrasses play an important role in sequestering carbon in the oceans. Their leaf systems and root structures help stabilize the sea floor, which helps to protect the coastlines during storms. However, boat groundings, propeller scarring, ill-placed development, and other human activities have damaged the world's seagrass meadows. According to a recent release from the United Nations Environment Programme, over 30 percent of seagrass meadows have been lost since the 1940s.

Active restoration of seagrass has been successful and provides continued access to boaters who depend on these waters for their livelihoods and recreation. The SeaGrass Grow Campaign will provide funding to grassroots organizations globally working to conserve and restore this critical resource.

About Bass Pro Shops Group:

Bass Pro Shops Group - 56 retail stores (East Peoria and Harlingen, Texas opening in 2011) in 26 states and Canada visited by over 100 million people annually, international catalog and internet retailing, American Rod & Gun wholesale division selling to over 7,000 independently owned retail stores worldwide, Outdoor World Incentives also selling Bass Pro Shops gift cards through over 132,000 retail outlets across America and a restaurant division with 26 locations. For more information regarding Bass Pro Shops store locations, products or special events, please visit www.basspro.com. Tracker Marine Group - Manufactures and sells Tracker, Nitro, SunTracker, Tahoe, Grizzly, and Mako boats through Bass Pro Shops retail stores and over 400 dealers worldwide. For more information go to www.trackermarine.com. Resort Group - Big Cedar Lodge and other resort properties including restaurants and golf course. For more information go to www.big-cedar.com, www.bigcedarwildernessclub.com, or www.dogwoodcanyon.com

About Columbia Sportswear:

Columbia Sportswear Company is a global leader in the design, sourcing, marketing and distribution of active outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment. Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, Columbia products are sold in more than 100 countries and have earned an international reputation for innovation, quality and performance. Columbia products feature innovative technologies and designs that protect outdoor enthusiasts from the elements, increase comfort, and make outdoor activities more enjoyable. In addition to the Columbia brand, Columbia Sportswear Company also owns outdoor brands Mountain Hardwear®, Sorel®, Montrail®, and Pacific Trail®. To learn more, please visit the company's websites at www.columbia.com, www.mountainhardwear.com, www.sorel.com, and www.montrail.com.

About The Ocean Foundation:

The Ocean Foundation's mission is to support, strengthen, and promote those organizations dedicated to reversing the trend of destruction of ocean environments around the world. For more information, visit www.oceanfdn.org/index.php?ht=d/sp/i/355/pid/355//pid/351. For information about The Ocean Foundation's SeaGrass Grow campaign, visit www.seagrassgrow.org/

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