Outdoor Updates: New Film for Earth Day, Viewshed Protected, and Pipeline Protester Arrested

Trail Viewshed Protected on North Mountain

This month, the Conservation Fund and USDA Forest Service (USFS) announced that 237 acres on North Mountain have gained protection and will be added to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. North Mountain is part of the viewshed of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) near McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs overlooks, which also gained new protections just last December. 

Funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a grant from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Wild East Action Fund, and other sources all contributed to securing the land to protect the iconic viewsheds and critical habitats. 

“The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests are committed to managing lands to sustain healthy forests, protect water resources, and provide outstanding recreational opportunities,” Joby Timm, Forest Supervisor, stated in a press release. “By incorporating these 237 acres into Forest System Lands, we ensure this land is available for future generations. We celebrate this acquisition as a successful collaborative effort with our partners aimed at meeting these goals.”

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests provide critical economic benefit to the surrounding communities from recreational tourism. These beloved forests have attracted adventurers to our region from all over the country, making the adjoined forests the seventh most-visited national forest in the U.S. Roughly three million visitors hike a portion of the A.T. in the area each year.   

New Short Film Follows the Journey of a Drop of Water

Have you ever thought about where the snow goes when it melts from beneath your skis at the end of the season? Well, fly fishing guide and Protect Our Winters (POW) Alliance member Hilary Hutcheson has—and this Earth Day, she wants to share the journey. 

Drop is Hilary Hutcheson’s short film that follows a drop of water along its journey from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a film of connection and connectivity, which uncovers, after 1,500 winding miles, a harsh reality: that changes to the climate may derail that journey with massive consequences. 

In the film Hilary meets the people whose lives are built around the water to see what they’re doing to fight for the precious resource, including POW founder and pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones to Rick Crawford, founder of the Fly Fishing Climate Alliance to Rachel Schmidt, director of innovative alliances for the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.

“What happens in the winter determines the outcome of our summers and we continue to see trends in declining snowpacks, which impact our waterways making it impossible to separate our survival, the ecosystems, and our economy,” said Jake Black, POW Program Director. “What happens next is up to us, collectively, and we have the opportunity to use our passion for these wild places as fuel to protect them together”.

Produced by Patagonia in association with POW and YETI, the Drop world premiere takes place on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 6:30 PM/MT. Visit ProtectOurWinters.org to learn more and to RSVP for the film screening.

(Reported by Ryan Scavo)

14 Outdoor Brands Donate Online Sales to Protect North America’s Wild Places 

From April 21-27—the week of Earth Day—the Conservation Alliance, an organization that works to protect and conserve threatened wild places, is running a #WeKeepItWild campaign, during which certain outdoor brands will donate 5% of all online sales to the program. The goal is to bring like-minded people and businesses together to encourage meaningful impact on the environment.

“Our members are vital to our work—by paying annual membership dues [that are directly passed through to our grant fund], dictating how and where those funds are allocated, and throughout the year, using their voice as advocates for the protection of public lands,” Conor McElyea, Membership  Program Manager at The Conservation Alliance, stated in a press release. “We are sincerely heartened to see this group of member organizations going above and beyond to support our mission, and hope that this program can continue to grow and become a true win-win for both the Alliance and participating brands.” 

Participating outdoor brands include Backpacker’s Pantry, Dometic. Grayl, Gregory Packs, GU Energy Labs, Helly Hansen, MiiR,  Mountain Safety Research (MSR), Nomadix, Royal Robbins, Ruffwear, Therm-a-Rest, Toad&Co, and Topo Athletic. 

According to the Alliance’s website, they have helped protect 73 million acres and 3,576 river miles, remove or halt 36 dams, purchase 18 climbing areas, and designate five marine reserves. All funds made from online sales from these businesses will contribute to their work to protect wildlands and waters across North America. 

Pipeline Protester Arrested After Locking Herself to Construction Equipment

In an attempt to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline, 27-year-old Alice Elliot of Ypsilanti, Michigan, attached herself to a piece of crane hoist equipment this week. Elliot was suspended about 25 feet in the air for nearly four hours according to authorities. Construction was halted as Virginia State Police responded to the situation.

“By locking myself to this equipment, I’m stopping MVP from using it and costing them tons of money, but this is just one form of resistance,” Elliot publicly stated before locking herself to the crane. “Being arrested while doing lockdowns is often glamorized and upheld as the ultimate way to be an activist, but all kinds of resistance are necessary, and happen every day. From long-term jail support for incarcerated people to labor organizing at warehouses and factories to fighting for police abolition, to babysitting and organizing childcare at actions, many different routes are being taken to revolution.”

Elliot has been safely extracted and arrested with bail set at $1,000. According to Appalachians Against Pipelines, she is facing four charges, including one felony, due to unauthorized use of a non-vehicle. See her full statement here

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