Conservation & Advocacy

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Action Alert! Dedicated, Full Funding Needed for the Land & Water Conservation Fund

Hailed as America’s best conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been vulnerable to a lack of funding and re-authorization from Congress. This past March, LWCF was permanently reauthorized, meaning this important conservation and recreation program will be around for the long haul. However, this does not actually guarantee it will receive funding every year. Since being established over 50 years ago, more than half of its intended funding - over $22 billion - has been diverted for other, non-conservation purposes. Read more…

Youth Outside | Becoming the Leaders Our World Needs

A hush spread over the crowd of 500 well-dressed Mountaineers, all eyes on the stage in anticipation. From behind the curtain emerged Jaydalen Blossom, a 14-year old outdoor enthusiast and participant with Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), a youth-serving mentorship and empowerment organization we partner with as part of our Mountain Workshops program. Jaydalen joined us to speak about the connection to people and place she feels in being outside, and to offer a fresh perspective on why protecting these places and experiences is more important than ever. Read more…

Conservation Currents | Celebrating the Public Lands Package, A Multi-Year, Bipartisan Effort

Cross-country skiing in the Methow. Climbing at Exit 38. Hiking at Ebey’s Landing. There's nothing like the amazing landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, and thanks to your advocacy, they are more protected than ever! Read more…

SOAR Act to Help Groups Get Outside

We’re thrilled to announce the introduction of bipartisan legislation we’ve been working on for over half a decade: the Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) Act. This bill will improve the recreational permitting systems of federal land agencies so more people can experience public lands through volunteer-based clubs (like The Mountaineers!), with an outfitter, guide, non-profit outdoor leadership organizations, or university outdoor programs. We are stoked to see a bill that will help fix the current inefficient, unpredictable recreational permitting system that create barriers for people to experience the outdoors through these types of outdoor programs. 

Take Action

The SOAR Act addresses an integral piece of  who we are as Mountaineers: our volunteer-led trips, courses, and youth programs allow us to introduce people to the wonders of outdoor places through facilitated outdoor experiences. 

We helped bring this wide-range of outdoor entities together to understand and solve the slew of permitting challenges when trying to take groups outside. The SOAR Act represents more than six years of work - by The Mountaineers and partners through the Coalition for Outdoor Access - to improve the recreational permitting systems of federal land agencies.

Introduced by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in the Senate, and Representatives Debra Haaland (D-NM) and John Curtis (R-UT) in the House, it has full support from a broad spectrum of stakeholders who take people outside on public lands, and represents significant collaboration and bipartisan support in Congress. 

We share a big  THANK YOU to Washington's Senator Patty Murray and Representatives Derek Kilmer and Susan DelBene for sponsoring this bill and supporting an issue that has impacted so many outdoor organizations in the Pacific Northwest!

WHY THE SOAR ACT

We have helped shape this bill because it will improve access to the outdoors, allowing people to experience the wonders of the natural world, which in turn supports the recreation economy and inspires people to care about the outdoor places they experience. The SOAR act is a critical piece in our ability to make good on our mission to get people outside safely and responsibly.

IMPROVING ACCESS AND EQUITY

Many people are first introduced to the outdoors through facilitated outdoor experiences. Our Mountain Workshops, which partners with local, youth-serving organizations, are examples of how better permitting processes will help get people outside who might otherwise not have the opportunity. The SOAR Act will improve systems to better allow programs like this to thrive.

INSPIRING FUTURE CONSERVATIONISTS

People protect what they love. At The Mountaineers, our courses and trips connect people to public lands, and we’ve seen time and time again that this is the first step to becoming an outdoor advocate. Better permitting processes will help more people experience the value of public lands so they can be a voice to protect these wild places.

SUPPORTING THE RECREATION ECONOMY

Gateway communities to public lands depend on recreation as a vital economic sector. Better permitting processes will help more people support local shops, gas stations, lodges, and restaurants near public lands.

WHAT THE SOAR ACT WILL DO

  • Increase flexibility for outdoor leaders by allowing them to engage in activities that are substantially similar to the activity specified in their permit. 
  • Increase recreational access by directing the agencies to improve the process for issuing recreation permits (eliminating duplicative processes, reducing costs, shortening processing times).
  • Make more recreation opportunities available by directing the agencies to offer more short-term permits and create a program for sharing unused permit service days between permit holders.
  • Improve permitting system transparency by directing agencies to notify the public when new recreation permits are available and requiring the agencies to provide timely responses to permit applicants.
  • Simplify the permitting process for trips involving more than one land management agency by authorizing the agencies to issue a single joint permit covering the lands of multiple agencies.
  • Provide new protections for Forest Service permit holders by recognizing seasonal demand fluctuations and waiving permit use reviews in extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the permit holder (wildfire, etc.).
  • Help control liability insurance costs for permit holders by allowing them to use liability release forms with their clients. 
  • Reduce barriers to access for state universities, city recreation departments, and school districts by waiving the permit indemnification requirement for entities that are prohibited from providing indemnification under state law.
  • Reduce permit fees and cost recovery expenses for small businesses and organizations by excluding certain revenue from permit fee calculations and establishing a simple 50-hour cost recovery fee exemption for permit processing.

  

For more information, take a look at the Coalition for Outdoor Access's press release here. Full bill text here.

Olympia Conservation & Stewardship - Maintaining Our Trails for National Trails Day

Our Olympia Conservation and Stewardship Committee has been championing stewardship for several years through an annual Stewardship Challenge and frequent work parties. We invite you to join us for National Trails day on Saturday, June 1, 2019 to give back to your local recreation areas, and to join us in recognizing the incredible work of the Olympia branch  at Wynoochee Lake on the south side of the Olympics. Read more…

Key Funding Takeaways in New State Budget

You’ve already heard from us a couple times this year about budget processes for Washington State. In February, we shared The Mountaineers funding priorities and in late April, we encouraged you to take action to speak up against proposed budget cuts – thank you to the 1,100 of you who did! Here’s where things landed with funding for state lands and outdoor programs for the next two years: Read more…

2019 Stewardship Challenge: Meet Our Stewardship Partners

As Mountaineers, we enjoy thousands of miles of trails and waterways throughout our public lands. We must set a compelling example as principled stewards who are willing to work hard to maintain the lands we enjoy. That's why our  Olympia Branch is challenging you to dedicate one day (or more!) this year to stewarding our public lands. This challenge is a great way to give back to our outdoor playgrounds and meet a vibrant community of volunteers. Read more…

The Era of Mega Fires - May 30

Join us for The Era of Megafires with Dr. Paul Hessberg, a research landscape ecologist with Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station. In this multi-media presentation, Hessburg explains how over the past decade the number of large, severe wildfires has been on the rise. These megafires burn more than 100,000 acres at a time; they can destroy communities, wildlife habitat, and natural resources. This special presentation conveys the conditions that lead to megafires and how they might be managed or mitigated. Read more…

Facilitated Access Permitting: What Mountaineers Leaders Need to Know

The complex landscape of permitting rules and regulations can be difficult to navigate as a Mountaineers leader. To help make things clearer, we've created a series of pages describing the various permit processes pertaining to Mountaineers activities, all organized by land manager. Read more…

Action Alert! DNR & State Parks Funding Under Threat

Earlier this year, we shared our funding priorities for state lands and outdoor programs (along with information about how our state budget is created). In a few short weeks, the final state budget will be on the desk of the Governor to sign. In the current proposal, state lands are underfunded, and we need you to advocate for better support for these places and recreational opportunities.  Read more…