Trip Report: Outdoor Alliance WA visits D.C.

Conservation & Advocacy Director Betsy Robblee shares her trip report from last week’s Outdoor Alliance Washington advocacy visit to Washington, DC. Learn why these visits are so important and what you can do to secure some important wins for Washington state’s public lands by the end of the year.
Betsy Robblee Betsy Robblee
Conservation & Advocacy Director
December 16, 2022
Trip Report: Outdoor Alliance WA visits D.C.
Betsy Robblee outside the U.S. Capitol.

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.

The Mountaineers and our partners visit the nation’s capital to advocate for public lands and the outdoor experience. After several OA Washington events this year with lawmakers in their home districts, American Whitewater’s Tom O’Keefe and I joined OA partners from across the country in Washington, DC last week. This was The Mountaineers first DC trip since before the pandemic. It was also my first time back in over ten years, having moved away from the city in 2012.

The post-election session of Congress offered a great opportunity to establish in-person relationships with congressional staff. At its heart, advocacy is about relationships, and while we have been meeting with staff via Zoom throughout the pandemic, there is no substitute for in-person interactions.

The primary purpose of this year’s visit was to advocate for the passage of two of our longtime priorities - the Wild Olympics bill and the SOAR Act - in a package of conservation and recreation bills before the end of this Congress.

Washington State’s congressional delegation is filled with champions of conservation and recreation issues in part because recreationists like you take action to protect public lands and the outdoor recreation experience.

Throughout the week, Tom O’Keefe and I met with most of the Washington delegation, including Rep. Rick Larsen and staff from the offices of Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and representatives Pramila Jayapal, Suzan DelBene, Kim Schrier, Marilyn Strickland, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. We conveyed our support for the Wild Olympics bill and a package of outdoor recreation bills called the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act - which includes the SOAR Act. We received a positive reception from each of the offices, and they shared their commitment to doing what they can to support these bills moving forward.

We also discussed the need to invest in staff capacity for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. With the recent announcement that Mount Rainier National Park’s Longmire to Paradise road will be closed on weekdays this winter, this issue was top of mind for both us and congressional staffers.

We asked lawmakers about their priorities for the next session of Congress, and shared our interest in taking them outdoors for a hike, paddle, or climb when they’re back in their district. We hear frequently from lawmakers that there’s no substitute for discussing conservation and recreation initiatives while spending time together outdoors. Rep. Larsen promptly shared his desire to go birdwatching in the North Cascades, which we’ll look forward to making happen.

The long trips across the country are always worth it to forge strong relationships with members of Congress and the Administration raise our conservation priorities. We’ll keep you posted on how these initiatives shake out as the 117th Congress draws to a close.

BR HE JE TOK 2.jpgBetsy and Outdoor Alliance Partners at the white house for a meeting with the Center for Envrionmental quality.

Join Our Advocacy

Advocating with the strength of more than 15,000 Mountaineers behind us allows us to make a compelling case for public lands and outdoor recreation. But there’s no substitute for a constituent letter - our advocacy is most effective when it highlights personal stories by constituents. It’s important that lawmakers hear directly from you on why we must protect public lands and outdoor recreation in Washington.

Take action now by using our action tool to urge your senators and representative to protect the Wild Olympics and secure outdoor permitting reform by the end of the year.

Take Action

Looking ahead to 2023, OA Washington will continue our work to advance 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. Keep an eye out for future OA Washington events, field tours, and advocacy opportunities shared in our monthly Conservation Currents newsletter.

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