Outdoor Recreation Businesses Applaud Huge Step to Protect Alaska’s Homelands

June 28, 2024

June 28, 2024 /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Today, outdoor recreation businesses applaud the Biden Administration for taking a powerful step to safeguard some of America’s wildest, most biologically and culturally important lands.

In today’s action, the Biden Administration has taken steps to permanently protect 28 million acres of some of the most critical lands in Alaska that span from the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska to north of the Arctic Circle. This is among the largest intact landscapes left in the country and supports Alaska’s $2.6 billion outdoor recreation industry that employs over 20,000 people.

These lands were justifiably designated for protection in 1971 but were more recently put at risk of being opened up to harmful and exploitative industrial extraction. If reopened, caribou migration routes, bald eagle sanctuaries, and critical wild salmon habitat could be decimated by industrial development.

More than 140 federally recognized Alaska Native Tribes have voiced support for permanently protecting this landscape and dozens of state and national nonprofit organizations have helped coordinate efforts to advocate for this land.

Today’s news is the first step. The Conservation Alliance and partners recently launched Protect Alaska’s Homelands. This campaign is coordinating business, nonprofit, and Tribal voices to ensure that the Biden Administration works in a timely fashion to finalize this process and permanently protect this landscape.

“The Final Environmental Impact Statement released today is an amazing step towards safeguarding lands and waters that support Alaska Native communities and offer some of the most renowned recreation in North America,” said Shoren Brown, TCA’s Vice President of Public Affairs. “TCA and our member companies are in full support of conserving 28 million acres of D1 lands that support Alaska’s $2.6 billion outdoor recreation industry and employ over 20,000 people. Businesses stand ready to defend this common sense decision from the BLM.”

“The Biden administration could further protect public lands in Alaska and as a result, play an outsized role in saving our planet,” said Hans Cole, vice president of environmental activism at Patagonia. “There are 28 million acres of D-1 lands around the state that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management that could lose protections which have blocked industrial development for 50 years. This includes critical habitat for species such as caribou, muskox, sockeye salmon and bald eagles. We have a shared responsibility to protect wild places like these, and the future of our business, the outdoor recreation economy and our planet relies on it.”

“The 28 million acres of D-1 lands in Alaska provide world class recreation and outdoor activities in a setting as wild and remote as anywhere left in the world. They provide unmatched wildlands experience to local community members and travelers from across the world. At GU we believe that everyone should have access to natural places which is why we’re standing up for the continued protection of these open spaces.” – Celia Camargo, GU Director of Community & Purpose

“As a sole proprietor and a career wilderness guide working for 30 years in Alaska, there is nothing of greater importance to me than protecting Alaska’s public lands. Indeed, these lands belong to not only us, but future generations. I have had the deep privilege of guiding people from all walks of life as they venture forth on these lands, bearing witness as the powerful wild experience shaped and shifted their lives for the positive. These lands have not only sustained my income for my entire career, but they have sustained my spirit as I’ve watched the powerful transformation take place in people who even get to experience their vastness for a day. It is hard to place an economic value on such experiences, yet as a tiny cog in the one trillion dollar outdoor industry, it is clear to me that even the wealthiest of humans on this planet value the opportunity to recreate in these lands and they have proved so again and again, year after year with their investments in their own vacations. Please protect these lands and our valuable tourism economy.” – Brooke Edwards owner/operator/lead guide of Alaska-based Wild World Wanderings.

“NEMO urges the BLM to permanently protect D-1 Lands. Conserving the D-1 Lands in Alaska presents an important opportunity to support Indigenous tribes, improve climate resiliency, and promote outdoor recreation in Alaska.” – Theresa McKenney, Director of Sustainability and Government Affairs

“The economic impact of Alaska’s outdoor recreation economy can’t be ignored – it contributes $2.6 billion to the state’s economy and employs 20,515 people. As one of those over 20,000 Alaskans who rely on outdoor spaces for my livelihood, I strongly support the protection of Alaska’s D-1 lands. The region’s wild rivers provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for fishing trips for folks near to home and from across the globe,” said Adam Cuthriell, Fishhound Expeditions owner and Alaska fishing guide. “My business guides fishing trips that offer access to Alaska’s remote and beautiful scenery and some of the most prolific wild sockeye salmon runs on Earth. Permanently protecting these vast lands and salmon habitat from harmful extractive industrial development will ensure my customers can continue to enjoy them.”

“At Backpackers Pantry, we are committed to leaving the world a better place for future generations. We’ll never stop protecting the planet and the places we love to adventure. As far as adventure destinations go, Alaska’s public lands offer some of the most remote and unique outdoor recreation experiences in the world,” said Soraya Smith, President of American Outdoor Products. “The 28 million acres are also deserving of permanent protection because

they include lands critical to Native communities’ food security and way of life. Opening Alaska’s D-1 lands to extractive development would be the wrong decision.”

” From Bristol Bay to the Arctic Circle, Alaska’s D-1 lands connect tens of millions of acres of important habitat that offer world-class recreation opportunities and support climate resilience. Peak Design aspires to help adventurers find their peak – and that’s only possible if outdoor spaces remain protected. Our company and our employees are calling on the Biden Administration to take action to safeguard these lands.” – Annie Nyborg, Head of Environmental and Social Impact at Peak

“As an outdoor recreation business, we have an obligation to protect the irreplaceable lands, waters, and wildlife for future generations. The 28 million acres of D-1 lands in Alaska are a world class resource for packrafting and other outdoor activities, serving as a destination for thousands of visitors each year. Businesses like ours and the outdoor recreation economy can only survive if places like these are protected for years to come. We look forward to seeing a final decision that permanently protects the D-1 lands.” – Sarah and Thor Tingey, Alpacka Raft Owners

“At Stio we are committed to doing the right thing and safeguarding 28 million acres of wildlands in Alaska from industrial development is just that – the right thing. It’s what is best for Alaska’s Native communities, the surrounding wildlife and ecosystems, and the outdoor recreation economy in Alaska and beyond,” said Liz Barrett, Stio Brand Director. “We are grateful that this land has remained intact thus far and encourage the administration to ensure protections for generations to come.”

“The 28 million acres of D-1 lands are critical for climate resiliency. Safeguarding this landscape from industrial development will not only protect our climate – it will support businesses such as ours that rely on protecting the outdoors. We at Outdoor Research believe it is our responsibility to be stewards of the environment so we are proud to join TCA and our fellow business members to protect D-1 lands.” – Dan Mayers, Brand Communication Manager at Outdoor Research

“As we watch our outdoor environment continue to change, it has become increasingly clear how important it is to protect the remaining wild places in the United States. By protecting these destinations, we not only provide a safe habitat for native animal species and crucial carbon sinks in our race against climate change, but we also bring needed value to local economies with world class recreation. Black Diamond Equipment, a US-based company, humbly asks the Biden Administration to reinstate protections for Alaska’s D-1 lands.” – Jess Powell, Advocacy and Sustainability Manager at Black Diamond

For more information about TCA and its efforts to protect wild places and outdoor spaces, visit www.ConservationAlliance.com.

About The Conservation Alliance:

The Conservation Alliance is a coalition of over 270 like-minded member companies who pool resources to fund and advocate for the protection of North America’s cherished wild places and outdoor spaces. Through the collective power of their membership – companies from a range of industries from outdoor industry to brewers, bankers, sportsmen, and renewable energy – take bold steps to conserve wild public lands and waters. Since 1989, we’ve awarded over $31.9 million in grants and helped protect over 82 million acres and 4,570 river miles, remove or halt 38 dams, purchase 22 climbing areas and designate five marine reserves.

Media Contact: Lilly Zoller, Director of Communications, The Conservation Alliance: Lilly@ConservationAlliance.com