Trip Report: Outdoor Alliance Washington Summer Celebration

The Mountaineers and Outdoor Alliance Washington recently came together with leaders in the conservation and recreation community to celebrate successes for our public lands and climate, including the bold climate investments in the Inflation Reduction Act. Read on to hear more about OA Washington and this special event.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
August 24, 2022

Last year, we announced that The Mountaineers is leading Outdoor Alliance Washington (OA Washington), a network of organizations representing the human-powered outdoor recreation community in Washington State. The goal of OA Washington is to forge strong relationships with lawmakers and land managers so that we can effectively advocate for shared conservation, recreation, and climate priorities. By amplifying the voices of more than 75,000 hikers,  paddlers, climbers, backcountry skiers, and mountain bikers across the state, we can achieve a more sustainable future for Washington’s outdoors.

WASHINGTONIANS AS OUTDOOR ADVOCATES

We’re proud that Washington is one of the most important states in the country for outdoor advocacy. The crowds of recreationists that call the Evergreen State home don’t just love to get outdoors, they take action. Washington’s outdoor community is filled with people who work, advocate, steward, and donate on behalf of our spectacular natural places. In fact, some of the congressional districts with the highest number of outdoor advocates in the nation are located in Western Washington.

We’ve seen that we can make a greater impact for public lands and waters, and the outdoor experiences they support, when we speak with a collective voice. This collective advocacy drives lawmakers to champion our issues. The Washington congressional delegation not only cares deeply about Washington’s outdoors, but its members are well placed on key committees and in leadership positions that make a difference.

A SUMMER CELEBRATION FOR THE OUTDOORS

At its core, successful conservation and advocacy efforts rely on people and relationships. As we work to grow Outdoor Alliance Washington, we seek to build relationships with local outdoor advocates who help make our advocacy successful.

Members of Congress typically return from our nation’s capital each August to meet with constituents and stakeholders in their districts. Despite busy schedules and an unpredictable legislative calendar, our timing worked out splendidly for us to celebrate the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act with Representatives Kim Schrier (WA-08), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Adam Smith (WA-09) at a community event and panel discussion on August 17 at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center.

The event gave attendees - recreationists, business leaders, land managers, and conservation and recreation partners from throughout the Puget Sound region - the chance to mingle and share stories from recent wins to protect public lands and advocate for bold climate action. Participants also got to hear reflections from the three members of Washington’s congressional delegation during a panel discussion about climate, public lands, and role of the recreation community as important outdoor advocates.

Summer Celebration crowd shot.jpgImage of attendees at the Outdoor Alliance Summer Celebration event. Photo by Jason Cohoon.

CLIMATE AND PUBLIC LANDS CHAMPIONS

Rep. Kim Schrier has been a leader on wildfire, forest resilience, and a strong supporter of the Forest Service’s Legacy Roads and Trails program during her time in Congress representing the state’s 8th Congressional District, including the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and Mount Rainier National Park, as well as gateway communities in Chelan and Kittitas counties.

Rep. Suzan DelBene loves skiing, hiking, and the outdoors, and has represented Washington’s 1st Congressional District since 2013, which includes North Cascades National Park and Glacier Peak Wilderness. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, she helped shape the clean energy tax provisions that were included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Rep. Adam Smith has represented the 9th Congressional District since 1996, and currently chairs the House Armed Services Committee. He is a strong advocate for addressing climate change and protecting our lands and waters, and was instrumental in getting the Wild Olympics bill through the House as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act the past two years.

Schrier close-up for blog.jpgImage of panel discussion featuring U.S. Representatives (left to right) Kim Schrier (WA-08), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and Adam Smith (WA-09) at our recent OA WA Summer Celebration event. Photo by Jason Cohoon.

Panel moderator Tom O’Keefe from American Whitewater kicked off the panel discussion by asking all three members to share what they were most excited about with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, and what this new law would mean for Washington state.

Rep. Schrier offered: “I’m excited about the passage of the IRA because there are certain things that people have been asking me about related to health care and climate change since I first ran in 2017. The Inflation Reduction Act is the answer to all of those questions. This is the biggest investment in climate ever, and it’s paid for in a fair way.”

Rep. DelBene shared that while there are so many great things in this new law, she’s really excited about some lesser-known provisions that will invest more resources in neighborhood access and grant programs that help communities in our state that have experienced flooding be more prepared and resilient from these disasters.

The three members of Congress were also asked for their take on how the outdoor community can be more effective champions for these issues and support their efforts back in Washington. D.C. Rep. Smith broke it down nicely: “Organize and educate, not just locally but nationwide. Advocacy isn’t just about showing up and telling us what you want, it’s building the environment and persuading people to agree with you on an issue.”

Re. DelBene shared, “Take members hiking more! I think we have great conversations about the work we need to do when we’re out on public lands,” She added that she values when different stakeholders that might not agree come together for those long, hard conversations: “I still remember getting to put up the sign at the expanded Alpine Lakes Wilderness in 2014. That was the culmination of years of work of bringing stakeholders together and figuring out how to get everyone on the same page. That's been key to the progress we’ve made, not only here but nationally.”

Taldi Speaker Shot_Photo by Jason Cohoon..jpgREI Co-op’s Senior Government Affairs Manager Taldi Harrison introducing members of Congress at the event. Photo by Jason Cohoon.

SUPPORT FROM THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY

The Pacific Northwest is home to a thriving outdoor industry that is a powerful voice for conservation and recreation. Many outdoor brands and companies who call Washington State home are involved in public lands and climate advocacy through organizations like the Outdoor Industry Association.

“With 1.5 million members in Washington, REI Co-op is proud to partner with Outdoor Alliance Washington, and have worked tirelessly with Outdoor Alliance for years to advance our shared goals of increasing access to outdoor places while striving to make sure those places are welcoming and safe for all,” REI Co-op’s Senior Government Affairs Manager Taldi Harrison shared during the event.

This event was made possible through support from our sponsors, REI Co-op and Aslan Brewing. In addition, Patagonia, Feathered Friends, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Vertical World, Ombraz, The North Face, and Stanley also supported us by donating gear and experiences for our giveaway drawing for event attendees. We greatly appreciate all of these companies' support of Outdoor Alliance Washington.

JOIN OUR EFFORTS

Through a combination of direct advocacy, impactful events like this one, field tours, and grassroots engagement, Outdoor Alliance Washington is working to advance our three main policy priorities: investing in the outdoors; protecting special places through land and water conservation; and ensuring an equitable and sustainable future for public lands and waters.

We’re hoping to continue to build a coalition of Mountaineers who can use their connection to our region’s landscapes to help achieve policy wins for the public lands we love. Email our conservation team if you’re interested in getting more involved in OA Washington advocacy efforts.


A version of this post will also appear on the Outdoor Alliance blog.

Lead image of the Outdoor Alliance Washington Summer Celebration event at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center. Photo by Jason Cohoon.