Outdoor Alliance and its member organizations have been working for decades to protect public lands and waters, knowing that these shared resources have a role to play in mitigating climate change. Below, explore some of what the human-powered outdoor recreation community has done so far on climate issues.
Climbers have a deep connection to the land and often visit wild and sensitive landscapes, giving them a unique, firsthand view of the impacts of our changing climate. The climbing community has a personal stake in the health of our climate and outdoor landscapes, and our actions today can help to reduce and adapt to the future impacts of a changing climate.
Access Fund, the U.S. advocacy organization for climbers, has been working to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment since 1991. There are over 30,000 climbing sites across America—located in forests, mountains, glaciers, deserts, and the plains—landscapes that are experiencing the effects of climate change. Climbers are witnessing melting glaciers, more intense wildfires, threats to sensitive species, and changing patterns of vegetation.
As the leading national advocacy organization for climbers, Access Fund works to protect these sensitive landscapes, while allowing for responsible outdoor recreation, and this work often aids in the protection of our climate.
Protect Public Lands: Access Fund works to protect public lands and outdoor recreation from irresponsible energy leasing, development, and transfers. At Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah, for example, they are working to defend this spectacular landscape from damaging oil and gas extraction activities.
Restore Climbing Areas: Access Fund also works to restore climbing landscapes—stabilizing slopes left vulnerable from more frequent and violent storms, rehabilitating areas after wildfires, and fortifying trails to protect the surrounding environment.
Buy Threatened Climbing Landscapes: Access Fund also buys climbing areas threatened by development, protecting and conserving natural landscapes for public use. These acquisitions often involve lands that score high on climate resiliency and landscape diversity. Access Fund works to assemble networks of protected lands to preserve plant and animal diversity, alongside responsible outdoor recreation.
Access Fund’s vision for the future involves a rich tapestry of protected landscapes that are preserved for outdoor recreation and conservation. That vision will benefit climbing, rural economies, the health and wellness of the American people, and our climate. For more information, please visit: https://www.accessfund.org/
Mountain regions are warming at roughly twice the pace of the global average and AAC members are bearing witness to the effects of a changing climate directly. As climbers, skiers and mountaineers, the AAC has observed mountain weather become more extreme, glaciers retreat, and danger from avalanche, rockfall, and mudslides increase. The AAC is concerned about the impact that a changing climate will have on our shared climbing environment as well as all of the world’s inhabitants and ecosystems. As such, we have funded academic research on the impacts of climate change and convened international researchers through the Sustainable Summits initiative, to identify adaptation and mitigation measures to impacts on mountain landscapes. Further, the AAC has advocated for conservation designations, opposed oil and gas developments, educated lawmakers about the value of outdoor recreation economies over extractive ones, and partnered with organizations to shine a light on how the climbing community is and will be affected by a changing climate. For more information please visit: https://americanalpineclub.org/our-conservation-work
Protect Our Winters was founded in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones to advocate for climate solutions on behalf of outdoor enthusiasts as we witness the impacts of climate change firsthand. POW works against climate change by turning passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates. We are a community of athletes, thought pioneers, and forward-thinking business leaders working to affect systemic political solutions to climate change. We believe that by engaging and turning a critical number of passionate outdoor people in key geographies into effective advocates, we can add enough power to the climate movement to positively affect change, leading to a cultural shift in climate advocacy. POW works at the federal and state level on its policy agenda: advocating for a price on carbon, a clean energy economy, electric transportation, and reducing fossil fuel emissions from our nation’s treasured public lands. Join us in turning your passion into purpose.
Our coastlines are under siege from the impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels and more powerful storms are shrinking our beaches and diminishing the public’s ability to enjoy these special places. Meanwhile, carbon emissions are altering ocean chemistry and damaging marine ecosystems. To address the threat of climate change, Surfrider is educating decision makers and the public about the impacts of climate change on our coastal and ocean environment. Surfrider is supporting shoreline planning to help communities adapt to sea level rise and extreme weather events. Surfrider is participating in renewable energy development to ensure projects minimize impacts to the environment and recreation. Finally, Surfrider is advocating for laws and policies that promote adaptation strategies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For more information please visit: https://www.surfrider.org/priority-campaigns/climate-change
The human-powered winter sports community, one of the fastest growing segments of the recreation economy, is on the front lines of climate change. Our members—backcountry skiers and snowboarders, Nordic skiers, polar explorers, mountain guides, ice climbers, winter fat bikers, snowshoers and snow scientists—live and work and play in some of the most climate-impacted regions on the planet. Working with land managers, outdoor industry partners, and more than 40 grassroots groups in 16 states, we advocate for public lands policies that mitigate and respond to a shifting climate, protecting threatened winter ecosystems, accessible non-motorized snowscapes, critical watersheds, healthy forests, and sustainable mountain town economies. We are also committed to climate education and outreach through our national SnowSchool program, engaging more than 33,000 kids annually across 65 outdoor education sites, and our Backcountry Film Festival, which tours 100 communities nationwide and reaches more than 30,000 people each season.
Climate change will have a significant effect on public lands and waters, but these places will also play a role in solving climate change. Addressing climate change means ensuring a future with clean air and water, protected land, renewable energy, and economic growth.
Outdoor Alliance and its member groups work closely on public lands issues, and we know that public lands and waters will be part of climate solutions. For example, public lands and waters can be part of developing the renewable energy resources necessary to transition away from fossil fuels. That does not mean that every renewable energy project is appropriate in every location, and we have a responsibility and opportunity to help make sure that development occurs in a thoughtful manner, mindful of other values like recreation and wildlife habitat. Below, learn more about how public lands and waters can be part of a balanced approach to protect the climate.