Backcountry Village touts higher cause
January 27, 2009
The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market that wrapped up this weekend was about a lot more than pushing cross-country skis and wool socks.
Located deep in the heart of the backcountry outfitters at the annual outdoor industry trade show was Backcountry Village a place where the selling of product stopped and the celebration and discussion of the nation’s public lands and resources came to the forefront. Featured in the village were three of the most prominent protectors of the outdoors and related resources, including nonprofits 1% For the Planet, the Winter Wildlands Alliance and Save our Snow (SOS).
"Nonprofit organizations, like us, also benefited from the close proximity to existing and potential members and supporters," said Kate Mitchell, program aficionado for 1% for the Planet in a press release.
"Normally, the nonprofits were on the second floor," Alison Gannett, founder of Save our Snow, added. "For me, that’s not helpful. I’m trying to reach a wider audience. We don’t have a lot of time to save the planet."
All three organizations work with companies and private citizens to protect outdoor areas and natural resources. One person who knows plenty about the outdoors, especially in this area, is Mark Menlove. Before becoming the executive director of the Winter Wildlands Alliance, he was an outdoor-loving local, working at the Park City Mountain Resort, the U.S. Ski Team and Ski Utah. Menlove now heads up the nationwide nonprofit that works to protect public areas for nonmotorized snow sports in the backcountry.
With so many people heading to the backcountry and the industry shift to backcountry equipment and safety gear, the importance for businesses and individuals to get involved has increased.
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"There are so many ways to manage and ensure that the backcountry experience will be there," Menlove said.
The show served as the perfect forum for the Alliance to connect with new companies and individuals interested in their cause and promote the support of companies that have already joined the movement. With big names like Black Diamond, Outdoor Research, Patagonia and REI already on board, the Alliance is receiving ample support, but Menlove said individual members also make a huge impact.
"We tell them how they can get involved in the public process," Menlove said.
Winter Wildlands Alliance works with the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management make sure that there is a balance between non-motorized and motorized backcountry users. Most recently, the Alliance put time and effort into being the part of conversation about recreational areas in a section of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Logan. It is also preparing to be a major part of the Wasatch Wilderness bill that will be introduced to in the U.S. Legislature this year.
"If we can pass better national policy… we can have more success at the local level to protect those winter ecosystems," Menlove said.
He is especially excited to see what national backcountry protection will come about with both a Democratic-leaning executive and legislative branch.
"We’re definitely seeing a new day," he said. "It’s really exciting. Things won’t happen immediately, but there is a climate of receptivity."
For more information, visit http://www.winterwildlands.org.
Protection of the outdoors and natural resources like snow is especially important to Gannett. Her umbrella foundation, Save our Snow, encompasses four smaller organizations, including Save our Water, Save our Singletrack, Save our Surf and the Save our Snow Foundation.
Gannett, who is a green business consultant, spent most of the show running around to different retailers, pitching how she can help them make their businesses more eco-friendly.
"It was busy," she said. "It was a good time to be in the global cooling business."
Gannett, named Green All-Star of Year alongside Willie Nelson, Leonardo Dicaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger, offers her services free of charge all over the world. She said that time is ticking for businesses and individuals to make better choices that have less impact on the world.
"We all need to work together to save our snow so future generations will be skiing," Gannett said.
Gannet is a former world champion freeskier and said that she was a planet saver long before she became a professional skier. One has really helped the other.
"I realized, getting involved in extreme sports, that it’s the perfect vehicle," she said. "People can connect we all have sports we love. I can use these things as a way to spread the message."
At the Winter Market, Gannett made a connection with Teko Socks that committed to donate $1 for every pair of sock it sells. That will go toward Gannett’s current efforts to raise money for an SOS education program that will help students green up their schools and their lives.
"I’m hell-bent on saving the planet," Gannett said.
For more information on getting involved with SOS, visitwww.sosfound.org or http://www.saveoursnowfoundation.org. For a four-step way to green your life, visit Gannett’s personal website at http://www.alisongannett.com.
And working with all non-profits and business is 1% For the Planet, which, according to director Terry Kellogg, is an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide.
The Vermont-based organization was in its element at the Winter Market, promoting the businesses are already on board and looking to attract more businesses and individuals.
"This is a great place for networking," Kellogg said.
The nonprofit already has a whopping 700 members, which means it is able to donate large amounts of money every year to all different types of organizations that are working to save the environment. But Kellogg is always looking to broaden the case. Companies that join are able to put a 1% For the Planet logo on their promotional material so people know they are a certified part of the organization.
But Kellogg is quick to point out that individuals also can do their part, either by frequenting the companies that are a part of 1% For the Planet or just by simply donating money to the cause and spreading the word.
"Individuals play a critical role," he said.
For more information on 1% For the Planet or the companies that are members of the organization, visit http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org.