The Mountaineers Go To D.C.

This month, The Mountaineers went to our nation's capitol to meet with lawmakers about legislation affecting the outdoor experience.
Katherine Hollis Katherine Hollis
Mountaineers Director of Conservation & Advcocacy
March 20, 2017
The Mountaineers Go To D.C.

If you’ve seen our Legislative Trail Map, you know about the concerning legislation related to our national public lands. We headed to our nation’s capital early this month to connect with lawmakers and land managers about issues affecting the places where we play. In all honesty, it was hard to approach the trip with much optimism given the mounting threats to our wild places

But, after meetings with legislative offices, land managers, and spending two days with our friends at The Conservation Alliance, I left with hope for the future of outdoor recreation and our national public lands. While this trip signified only one step in what must continue to be significant, focused work to protect the outdoor experience, our wild places have some great champions. In what can seem like a disparate world, the outdoors brings us together to explore, share, and ultimately to protect the experiences they provide. And we are not alone in believing this.

Protecting Our Public Lands

Every one of the Washington delegation offices we met with reiterated their support for our national public lands, regardless of party affiliation. We discussed a number of ways they can help protect the places where we play:

Public Lands Heist

Many mentioned the high number of calls they have been receiving about the public lands heist. The takeaway here: Calls to your representatives make a difference! We encouraged representatives that haven’t spoken out publicly on the issue to do so. And we gave them a specific way to demonstrate their commitment: We asked them to sign onto Congressman Reichert and Lowenthal’s House Resolution that calls on Congress “to recognize America’s federal public lands as national treasures and to preserve them for future generations.”

Mountains to Sound Greenway

We talked Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Designation with champions Cantwell and Reichert. We hope to have updates on bill reintroduction soon! 

Methow Headwaters Protection Act

Senators Cantwell and Murray reintroduced The Methow Headwaters Protection Act when we were in DC. It was great to be able to thank these offices in person for their efforts to protect everything the Methow Valley provides.

Wild Olympics

Wild Olympics was also recently reintroduced, and we appreciated getting to say thank you to Congressman Kilmer and Senator Murry for their long-term focus on this landscape.

Stronger Together

One of the trip’s highlights was continuing our work with The Conservation Alliance, an organization that unites businesses in support of protecting wild places. Advocating side by side with our friends in the outdoor industry demonstrated their strong commitment to protecting our wild places.

Together we spent a training day getting updated on the current political climate, hearing from partners in the hunting and angling community, and receiving a presentation from Outdoor Alliance about uniting our community’s voice to protect our public lands. The following day, I joined Columbia Sportswear, KEEN, Clif, American Whitewater, and Conservation Alliance  to meet with Pacific Northwest lawmakers. 

"It was a powerful experience standing together with the companies that provide the gear we all use and jointly speak to the economic impact of the $646 billion recreation economy," noted Thomas O'Keefe who works for American Whitewater and serves on The Mountaineers Advisory Council. "We all just go outside to have fun and seek personal challenge in the outdoors but economic impact is political currency in DC and we have that."

It was amazing to be a part of this unified effort. My colleague Mark Menlove from Winter Wildlands Alliance may have put it best when he said, “I take huge comfort and find deep inspiration in the knowledge that we have found our collective voice and that that voice is powerful.”

Facilitated access - Outfitter/Guide Permitting

We continue to make strides in tackling the complex issue of outfitter/guide permitting on public lands. As part of the Coalition for Outdoor Access (formerly the Outdoor Access Working Group), we’ve engaged on this issue for years, scoring a major win last June when the US Forest Service announced plans to streamline their permitting process. Now, we’re starting permitting discussions with the National Park Service. We also connected with a number of legislative offices working on possible legislative answers to permitting. We're excited to continue to work with land managers and make it easier for organizations like The Mountaineers to get people outside. 

While I’m more comfortable putting on a climbing harness or buckling my ski boots, and wearing suits will always feel a bit funny, I am always proud to do so to represent our 12,500 members and to protect the outdoor experience. 

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Louis Coglas
Louis Coglas says:
Mar 22, 2017 06:58 AM

Thank you Katherine
The article and information provided about all the bills, legislation's and going on on are public lands is very comprehensive and informative. The reminder that nothing is permanent on are public lands is an important part of using the lands. One of the best experiences I had in the Mountaineers was sitting on the Ex Conservation Committee and Chairing the Everett Branch Conservation Committee.
I learned much about the how much work it takes to protect wild places learning from the greats like Polly D, Fran T. Henry Karl, and many others who were involved in saving and protecting lands and waters.
Please keep up the good work.