Conservation Alliance Leaders Urge Action On California Wilderness

Company Representatives Visit Washington, DC to Push for New Wilderness on California’s North Coast and Eastern Sierra
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Bend, Ore., June 5, 2006 – Representatives from five outdoor industry companies met with Congressional offices to discuss the economic value of new Wilderness designations in California. The Washington, DC visit on May 21-22, organized by The Conservation Alliance and the California Wild Heritage Campaign, came as Congress is considering two bills that together would protect more than 340,000 acres of federal lands in California as Wilderness.

The delegation included John Sterling (The Conservation Alliance), Conrad Anker (The North Face), Lisa Myers (Patagonia), Gaston MacMillan (Mountain Hardwear), Laura Keresty (Wilderness Press), and Karen Righthand (Atlas Snow-Shoe).

“Wilderness is important to outdoor businesses whose customers need protected wild places in which to use the products they make and sell,” said Sterling. “Our California-based member companies support more Wilderness in their backyard.”

The group met with offices about The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, and The Eastern Sierra Rural Heritage and Economic Enhancement Act, known respectively as the “Thompson Bill” and the “McKeon Bill” after each bill's House sponsor.

The Thompson Bill would save 300,000 acres of federal land on California's North Coast, including the King Range and Lost Coast. The bill would also add acreage to several existing Wilderness areas including the Siskiyou, Trinity Alps, and Yolla Bolly.

The McKeon Bill would add 40,000 acres to the Hoover and Emigrant Wilderness areas, and protect 29 miles of the Amargosa River in Death Valley.

“We are fortunate to have such strong support from outdoor businesses in California,” said Traci Sheehan-Van Thull, Director of the California Wild Heritage Campaign (CWHC). “Business leaders are the best people to deliver the message that Wilderness has lasting economic value.”

The Conservation Alliance supported CWHC in March with a $35,000 grant in support of the group's Wilderness and river protection efforts. Once the grant was made, the Alliance looked for opportunities to supplement funding with on-the-ground advocacy.

“We're excited to partner with the Campaign to help save California's last wild places,” said Sterling. “Our members and their customers feel strongly that these places deserve protection. It wasn't hard to find volunteers to participate in this trip to Washington.”

The Thompson Bill has already cleared the Senate and has had a hearing in the House. McKeon's legislation had a Senate hearing in May, and will likely move through the House later this year.


About the Conservation Alliance:
The Conservation Alliance is an organization of outdoor businesses whose collective contributions support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate. Alliance funds have played a key role in protecting rivers, trails, wildlands and climbing areas.

Membership in the Alliance is open to companies representing all aspects of the outdoor industry, including manufacturers, retailers, publishers, mills and sales representatives. The result is a diverse group of businesses whose livelihood depends on protecting our natural environment.

Since its inception in 1989, the Alliance has contributed more than $4.5 million to grassroots environmental groups. Alliance funding has helped save over 34 million acres of wildlands; 25 dams have either been stopped or removed; and the group helped preserve access to more than 16,000 miles of waterways and several climbing areas.

For complete information on the Conservation Alliance, see www.conservationalliance.com.

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