The 2016 SHIFT Summit and Festival took place October 13-15 in Jackson Hole, WY. It focused on three main topics: Next Generation Engagement and Cultural Relevancy; Funding for Public Lands; and The Public Land Transfer Movement.
The SHIFT Summit, held at Snow King Resort, brought together leaders in the outdoor rec/conservation world, including participants in the inaugural Emerging Leaders Program, public land managers, outdoor recreationists, conservation advocates, and business leaders. The Summit served as a deep drill on opportunities, challenges, and shared values at the heart of the outdoor recreation/conservation partnership.
The following overview of the panel discussions held at the Summit includes key takeaways from each discussion.
Friday, Oct. 14, 8 a.m.—12 p.m.: Next Generation Engagement and Cultural Relevancy
The demographics of the outdoor recreation, land management, and conservation communities have been criticized for their homogeneity: predominantly white, middle class, and (increasingly) aging. Demographic projections for the next fifty years predict an increasingly diverse nation in which no racial or ethnic group in the United States will possess a majority. As such, there’s a need to identify opportunities to introduce new populations to wild and natural places. Outdoor recreation and conservation programs offer a solution: engaging younger, more urban, and more diverse generations in public lands advocacy and access opportunities.
The SHIFT Summit featured diverse participation to insure meaningful and valuable conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), as well as create a framework for thinking about DEI and assessing progress on the topic.
Breakfast Discussion: The Collective Impact Model
Numerous programs around the country focus on getting kids outside, but as with so much of our work, they can often operate in isolation, undermining the potential of a unified framework. This plenary breakfast panel discussion presented a collective impact model already underway that attempts to unify the various national efforts on youth engagement for a more effective outcome.
The Youth Outdoors Regional Collective Impact Model has three main goals: networking, shared interest, and collective impact. The Model is the culmination of collaborative work by representatives from several key youth engagement organizations in response to the need to provide outdoor opportunities to youth of all ages and demographics. In addition, the need was identified to share successes, challenges, and goals between previously isolated youth engagement organizations.
– Stacy Bare, Director, Sierra Club Outdoors
– Courtney Aber, National Director for BOLD and GOLD (Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) at the YMCA
– Chris Rutgers, Executive Director of Transforming Youth Outdoors
Within the Collective Impact Model are five steps:
Among key themes of the panel and subsequent small-group discussions were:
Panel 1: Building a Better Pipeline
The creation of professional development opportunities for emerging leaders and young staff members across sectors of the stakeholder coalition can help develop a more diverse workforce and constituent base. Panelists discussed how to move the next generation of stewards past volunteer/youth corps positions to longer-term career pathways.
– David Vela, Superintendent, Grand Teton National Park
– Maite Arce, Executive Director, Hispanic Access Foundation
– Brenna Muller, Program Manager, Outdoor Alliance for Kids; Nearby Nature Program Manager, The Sierra Club
– Alex Klein, Vice President and General Manager, Grand Teton Lodge Company and Flagg Ranch Company
– Joshua Tuck, Regional Youth Volunteer Program Manager Assistant, National Park Service
Panel 2: Outdoor Recreation and Cultural Relevancy
Active engagement with the outdoors has produced some of the country’s strongest and most inspiring conservation leaders. Today, with the constituencies of conservation aging, outdoor recreation offers a remarkable opportunity to reinvigorate our economy, public health and the protection of our public lands—but only if it becomes more relevant to and inclusive of communities of color and urban millennials. This panel discussion shared some of the success stories in the efforts to do just that.
– Grace Anderson, National Manager, Inspiring Connections Outdoors Program, The Sierra Club
– Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Co-Founder, The Avarna Group
– Georgina Miranda, Founder, Altitude-Seven
– Ed Cantu, Director for Consumer Insights & Planning, Lopez Negrete Communications
– Bob Ratcliffe, Director, Conservation and Recreation Programs, National Park Service
Panel 3: The Millennials’ Take
In this panel discussion, self-selected participants from the Emerging Leaders Program presented their perspectives on Next-Gen Engagement and Cultural Relevancy as it relates to outdoor recreation and America’s public lands heritage. What do they believe we need to know in order to successfully engage their generation of stewards?
– Alfonso Orozco, Latino Outdoors
– Leandra Taylor, Middle Rio Grande Education, Employment & Environment Alliance
– Maya Hunger, Emerging Leaders Program
– Jas Jones, Student Conservation Association
– Janet Valenzuela, Good Heart Project
– Christian Gering, Conservation Legacy/Environmental Stewards
Friday, Oct. 14, 3-5 p.m.: Funding for Public Lands
Long-term reliable funding for public land management agencies is directly related to the public land transfer, since budget cuts limit agencies’ capacity to effectively manage public lands. With agency budgets going to fighting wildfires and a growing backlog of deferred maintenance, the issue, which currently lacks a unified voice, continues to grow more pressing.
The SHIFT Summit aimed to share information on how investments in public lands contribute to local economies through recreation and tourism. In addition, the Summit sought to elevate the increasing role for and value of volunteer stewardship and other forms of partnership that engage the next generation in public lands, highlighting success stories and discussing how this potentially powerful tool can be leveraged.
Panel 1: Public Lands and Sustainable Recreation: A Collaborative Future
In a time of constrained resources, creative approaches are key to successful management of our public lands. At the same time, approaches to management of National Forests across the country are changing through management plan updates guided by the USFS 2012 Planning Rule. Attendees learned how the Eastern Sierra Recreation Collaborative used “A Framework for Sustainable Recreation (USFS)” to inform its gateway community engagement and how the Inyo National Forest is using collaboration and partnerships to ensure a healthy forest for future generations.
– Mike Schlafmann, Public Services Staff Officer, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
– John Wentworth, Mayor Pro Tem, Mammoth Lakes (CA); Board President, Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation
– Danna Stroud, Mt. Whitney Area Representative, Sierra Nevada Conservancy; member, Eastern Sierra Recreation Collaborative
– Deb Schweizer, Public Affairs Officer, Inyo National Forest
– Meryl L. R. Harrell, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Panel 2: Volunteer Stewardship
Volunteer stewardship is playing an increasingly large role in the management of our public lands, addressing infrastructural backlogs and assisting on projects that historically were the sole responsibility of land-management agencies. Panelists discussed how this potentially powerful tool can be further leveraged—and how it can engage the next generation in the future of our public lands.
– Ann Baker Easley, Executive Director, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
– Anthony “Chako” Ciocco, Coordinator, Ancestral Lands Program (Navajo Nation)
– Michael Fiebig, Associate Director for the Northern Rockies, American Rivers
– Randy Rasmussen, Director, Public Lands and Recreation, Backcountry Horsemen of America
– Leah Burgess, Lands Program Manager, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
– Nick Watson, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Veterans Expeditions
Panel 3: The Rec Economy and Our Public Lands
Panelists discussed the rec economy—including the Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Report and the imminent economic analysis of the outdoor rec economy by the Bureau of Economic Analysis—within the context of funding for public lands.
– Luther Propst, Founder, Sonoran Institute
– Ray Rasker, Executive Director, Headwaters Economics
– Kat Currie, Senior Advisor in Policy, Management, and Budget, U.S. Department of the Interior
– Cailin O’Brien-Feeney, Local Recreation Advocacy Manager, Outdoor Industry Alliance
– Michael Degnan, Associate Director for Land and Water, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Panel 4: State Offices of Outdoor Rec
State offices of outdoor recreation are reinvigorating local economies, improving citizen health and protecting our lands, waters and wildlife around the West. Representatives from Utah, Colorado and Montana shared lessons learned from Thursday’s workshop to create a playbook for such offices, and explored the role business and outdoor rec can play in public lands advocacy.
– Brad Peterson, Former Director, Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation (2013-2015)
– Luis Benitez, Director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
– Tom Adams, Director, Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation
– Alex Logemann, State and Local Policy Analyst, People for Bikes
– Patricia Dowd, Associate Natural Resource Policy Advisor, Governor’s Office, State of Montana
Saturday, Oct. 15, 9:30-11:30 a.m.: The Public Land Transfer Movement
With several bills proposed in western states that attempt to transfer public land management from federal agencies to state control, the conservation and recreation communities see the proposed public land transfer as a significant and urgent threat facing public lands. To date, Western states have disposed of over 31 million acres of land, nearly equivalent to the area of Louisiana. Transferring public lands to states’ hands would likely result in sales to the highest bidders–billionaires and foreign corporations who may neither understand nor value America’s outdoor heritage. Outdoor recreationists of all types lose access to these lands in perpetuity as they become privatized.
The SHIFT Summit aimed to build bridges between groups working to prevent the transfer of public lands, and strengthen messaging and information around the economic impacts of the public land transfer movement.
Panel 1: Never Let a Good Crisis Go To Waste
Hunters, anglers, conservation orgs, and the outdoor rec community discuss the public land transfer movement and the opportunities for collaboration it presents. Participants shared success stories of innovative, inclusive, collaborative, and effective responses to the movement that can be replicated on a national scale.
– Whit Fosburgh, CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
– Brad Brooks, Deputy Director for Idaho Region, The Wilderness Society
– Katie McKalip, Communications Director, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
– Kirsten Blackburn, Corporate Communications and Advocacy Manager, KEEN
– John McCauley, Regional Organizer, Outdoor Alliance
Panel 2: Public Lands, Urban America
The term “public lands” can evoke visions of unpopulated landscapes beneath wide western skies, but most Americans live in urban areas. The discussion explored how the public land transfer movement is relevant to urban Americans and conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
– Gayle Hazelwood, Senior Urban Program Manager, National Park Service
– Taimur Ahmad, Recreation and Forest Policy Fellow, The Wilderness Society
– Andy Laurenzi, Co-Founder, TOTAGO (Turn Off Your App and Go Outside!)
– Daniel Lucio, Lone Star Chapter, The Sierra Club
– Morgan Dixon, Co-Founder, GirlTrek
Panel 3: Public Lands: The Business Case
Public lands play a fundamental role in a sustainable outdoor industry. In recognition of this, Conservation Colorado has recently launched the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (COBA), which represents a coalition of the state’s leading outdoor recreation businesses. COBA capitalizes on successes like the permanent protection of Browns Canyon National Monument, linking outdoor business leaders with Conservation Colorado’s organizational expertise to elevate outdoor industry voices in public lands advocacy. This panel discussion examined the role a state’s outdoor rec businesses can play in public lands policy—including how similar coalitions are springing up around the Rocky Mountain West.
– Gabe Kiritz, Public Lands Business Organizer, Conservation Colorado
– Rachel Leinweber, Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance
– Maria Povec, Policy Director, American Alpine Club
– Lana Weber, Idaho Conservation League
– Evan Reimondo, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, National Outdoor Leadership School