Outdoor Retailer is here!

OR Show Party with OspreyIt’s that time of year again - time for the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted every summer and winter by the Outdoor Industry Association, the OR Show provides an awesome networking opportunity within the industry and a chance to check out what products and services are catching consumer’s attention.

As a coalition long backed by the outdoor industry, we’re heading down to check in with our existing supporters and hopefully meet some new ones, spreading the word that healthy salmon and rivers are great for business and the environment.

There’s a well-timed cover story on High Country News right now by Greg Hanscom that asks, “Can the outdoor gear industry wield its power for conservation?” As one of the beneficiaries of businesses taking a stand for conservation issues, we emphatically answer: YES.

It takes sustained joint work from conservation groups and outdoor businesses to together protect and restore lands, waters, and critters. The relatively short arc of time covered in Hanscom’s story, and the ups and downs within it, obscure the steady trend of success and sophistication in the business/conservation marriage - which is really hundreds of small marriages that take time. Peter Metcalf of Black Diamond, who is featured in the article, and hundreds of other business owners/leaders, should take satisfaction in the step-by-step work they are pioneering each day in the conservation world.

While business/conservation alliances may be smaller than say, oil and gas alliances that influence policy, their impact in local communities can be larger than any large alliance could ever accomplish. We should apply the right yardsticks to evaluate our progress and direction.

The Conservation Alliance and company leaders like Peter Metcalf have been absolutely critical to our work on the Columbia-Snake Rivers for many years. We would not have had the success we have had thus far for wild salmon and steelhead in the Northwest without them.

Also worth mentioning that Mr. Metcalf was one of nearly 1,200 businesses to sign the Salmon Mean Business letter to President Obama and Congress last year.  Peter also sent a personal letter (one of over 1,100) to NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco as part of our Valentine’s Day campaign.  Here’s what he wrote:

Dear Dr. Lubchenco,

Each June I stand at the overlook at Dagger Falls near the headwaters of the Middle Fork Salmon River and watch Chinook. Over and over again they leaps up the falls, only to be denied by the force of the water and come crashing back into the pool below. But they won't be denied. They try again and again until finally, they get it just right, and the desire in their body finds a way to arc through air and pounding water to reach the pool above. It's an impressive sight, made all the more impressive by the fact that these fish have already swam some 700 miles before they reach this spot. As you know, the numbers that make it are but the thinnest remnant of what used to fin these waters each year, providing nourishment for Shoshone, eagle, bear, even the lodge pole and spruce forests that line the bank.

Unfortunately the state of salmon conservation in Idaho feels a bit like the salmon that keeps leaping and falling back into the pool below. Years of negotiations and effort have failed to find a way to successfully get past the political barriers and reach the pool above the falls. Yet that is where we need to go. For it is in the reaches and side streams above the falls that these salmon find the conditions needed to spawn. Only beyond the falls of political gridlock can we ensure the conditions necessary that these salmon will continue to make this incredible, nourishing journey for millennium to come. To get there, we need a solid working plan. Time is running out. Please ensure that our next leap is the successful one and that the millions of years of knowledge encoded in these fish will not die out on our watch.

Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.

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