March 10, 2010

Outdoor Businesses Get Their Hands Dirty in the Name of Conservation.

Backyard Collectives and the Case of Outdoor businesses giving back to the outdoors!

Metolius River in Oregon © Bruce Jackson

As a member of the outdoor community, I consider myself an active, outdoorsy person and an advocate working to protect wild places. But how often do I get out and get my hands dirty to move this action to the field? When was the last time I cleaned up trash on a beach, planted trees along a river or helped to rebuild my favorite trail? I can barely remember.

Enter a roving team of events called Backyard Collectives, that serves as a swift kick in the pants to the outdoor industry to get people outside for a day of hands on environmental stewardship.

The Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor industry companies that disburse their collective membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations, launched ConservationNEXT in August, 2008 to connect individuals in the outdoor industry with the work of organizations that receive financial support from the Alliance.

Since the Alliance’s founding in 1989, the group has contributed more than $7 million to conservation projects throughout North America. The grants have helped organizations in their work to protect more than 49 million acres of land, stop or remove 27 dams, and preserve access to thousands of miles of rivers and several climbing areas (including the Metolius River, above).

Along with funding, ConservationNEXT provides people with opportunities to take online action in support of conservation, and the Backyard Collectives move that action to the field, and helps people get their hands dirty in their own communities.

Outdoor businesses giving back to the outdoors. What’s not to love about that?

Last year, ConservationNEXT brought Backyard Collectives to Oakland, Bend, Ore., Portland, Seattle and Boulder. This year, they’re going even bigger. With events spanning from New York City to Ventura, Calif., people will have even more opportunities to get outside and help!

First up, a clean-up on the Ventura River and Surfers Point Beach in Southern Calif. next Friday, March 19.

The Backyard Collectives are a great way to bring outdoor industry companies together to help with an environmental service project in their own backyard. And these types of events can make a huge difference,” said Deanna Lloyd – ConservationNEXT board member and employee at The Forest Group. “This group of volunteers will be making a significant contribution to the overall maintenance and beauty of this area.”

Along with cleaning up the beach, volunteers will also have a chance to catch up with some of the nonprofits doing great work in their own backyard.

If you’re in Ventura and would like to help, would like to learn more about upcoming Backyard Collectives, or to take action online, visit ConservationNEXT.

All over the country, people are working hard to protect our wild places, and they need our help. Whether you’re a part of the outdoor community, or just like to take a walk outside every now and then, we could all use a little more time getting dirty to protect our playground.

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