What do a Washington DC nonprofit, a hunting and angling organization and an outdoor adventure app have in common?
They, and thirty other initiatives, are all official selections for The 2016 SHIFT Awards.
The SHIFT Awards, which will be announced at The 2016 SHIFT Festival, October 13-15 in Jackson, WY, recognize individuals, initiatives, or organizations that make innovative, impactful and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.
“SHIFT’s goal is to honor innovative work that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains, and that engages the next generation of stewards,” said SHIFT’s Director, Christian Beckwith. “This year’s Official Selections represent the best such efforts in the country.
2016 Award Official Selections include City Kids Wilderness Project, which provides afterschool, weekend and summer-long outdoor adventure programming for 130 under-resourced youth from Washington DC’s most vulnerable communities; Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, which seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters; and TOTAGO (Turn Off The App, Go Outside), an app that leverages data and technology to inspire appreciation for the outdoors by facilitating access to parks, wilderness, and open space worldwide.
To determine Award nominees, SHIFT researchers identified more than 300 individuals or initiatives from around North America that leveraged outdoor rec for conservation gains. Further evaluations were then made of more than 100 initiatives in seven categories: Non-Profit Leadership, Business Leadership, Public Land-Management Innovation, Technology, and Youth Engagement.
(Official Selections for two other Award categories, Adventure Athlete and Youth Leadership Awards, will be announced August 1.)
SHIFT’s team of evaluators then ranked each initiative or individual according to the following criteria.
Total = Sum (Ratings x Weight)
The top 25% of the initiatives as evaluated by SHIFT researchers are invited to participate in SHIFT’s Marketplace, which showcases on-the-ground work that is successfully meeting challenges at the nexus of outdoor recreation and conservation in communities around the country.
The top 10% of the initiatives in each category (or the three highest-ranking initiatives, whichever is higher) will comprise the finalists for the 2016 SHIFT Awards.
Ties in the evaluations were included in the Official Selections.
“We’re excited to celebrate all our Official Selection winners at SHIFT in October,” said Beckwith.
2016 SHIFT AWARD OFFICIAL SELECTIONS
NON-PROFIT LEADERSHIP: This award recognizes individuals, an initiative, or an organization that makes innovative, impactful and replicable contributions to conservation through human-powered outdoor recreation.
American Rivers’ Blue Trails Program
Location: Bozeman, MT
Synopsis: American Rivers launched its Blue Trails program in 2007 to help remedy the challenge of connecting people to rivers, inspire communities to view their rivers as a resource and take action to protect and restore them.
A Blue Trail is a waterway adopted by a local community that is dedicated to improving family-friendly recreation such as fishing, boating, and wildlife watching, and conserving land and water resources.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Location: Missoula, MT
Synopsis: Backcountry Hunters and Anglers seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters. They inform and mobilize sportsmen to advocate on behalf of public lands. Sportsmen have historically been leaders in conservation and environmental issues. BHA has been able to successfully reinvigorate their community’s activism on behalf of U.S. public lands and waters – which in many ways have never been more vulnerable – and promote public opportunities to access and recreate on them.
Carolina Climbers Coalition
Location: Raleigh, NC
Synopsis: The CCC is part small land trust and part climber advocacy organization. The CCC owns several tracts and works with land managers to ensure and improve climbing on state and federal lands in the Carolinas. They focus on the space where climbing and conservation meet – achieving land protection while also opening up sustainable recreation. The CCC approaches issues from the climber’s perspective, but also carries with them a strong land ethic and emphasizes responsible climbing and stewardship with their members. The recently acquired a 6-acre bouldering area adjacent to a state park in NC when the developer underwent foreclosure.
Location: Missoula, MT
Synopsis: Climate Ride produces charitable multi-day rides, hikes and a DIY program. Climate Ride’s charitable events program energizes people of all backgrounds and ages to actively engage in environmental philanthropy. They empower participants by giving them a personal way to join the cause and the option to support a collection of more than 150 environmental and active transportation charities. Participants get the satisfaction of completing a multi-day endurance event that connects them directly to nature while supporting the organizations that they value most.
Cody Wild West River Fest
Location: Cody, WY
Synopsis: The mission of the Cody Wild West River Fest is to promote river recreation and conservation in northwest Wyoming.
From their application: “The 2016 Cody Wild West River Fest will be the 4th annual. Every year, the committee has undertaken parallel projects to improve river conservation and/or recreation in the region. In 2013, we improved Cody’s primary river access, in 2014 we hosted a youth river clean-up event and began eradicating invasive Russian olive from riparian areas, and in 2015 we created a separate nonprofit, the Wild West Paddle Club, to promote whitewater paddling to youth. In 2016, we are working on a project aimed at creating a destination natural area on Cody’s river front that will involve significant river restoration work.”
Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Sustainable Trails Program
Location: Golden, CO
Synopsis: Colorado Fourteeners Initiative’s Sustainable Trails Program is a multi-year effort designed to better understand, prioritize and manage the conservation resources, stewardship needs, recreational opportunities and trailhead economic impacts facing Colorado’s much-loved 14,000-foot peaks—the “Fourteeners”. Over the past quarter century CFI has worked with six National Forests, 17 individual USFS Ranger Districts, one Bureau of Land Management field office and numerous private landowners to plan, build and maintain a network of complex summit trails on 53+ high peaks that traverse the largest fragile alpine tundra ecosystem in the lower 48 states. This data-intensive project seeks to better understand changing on-the-ground resource conditions, quantify and prioritize the need for future trail stewardship work and document recreational use trends so that land managers, 14er hikers and local communities can join together to protect these special peaks without unduly affecting recreational opportunities.
Conservation Colorado’s Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance
Location: Denver, CO
Synopsis: Conservation Colorado has recently launched the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance (COBA) with the mission to leverage diverse economic voices to protect access and enhance Colorado’s public lands in support of a durable outdoor industry. COBA represents a coalition of Colorado’s leading outdoor recreation businesses that recognize the fundamental role public lands play in sustaining the durable outdoor industry. Businesses have played pivotal roles in propelling recent conservation campaigns to success in Colorado and throughout the West. They represent an increasingly critical component of recent conservation wins, such as the permanent protection of Browns Canyon National Monument. COBA capitalizes on these successes, linking outdoor business leaders with Conservation Colorado’s organizational expertise to build innovative, sophisticated, stakeholder-driven conservation campaigns.
Location: Aspen, CO
Synopsis: EcoFlight educates and advocates for the protection of remaining wild lands and wildlife habitat through the use of small aircraft. The aerial perspective and their educational programs encourage an environmental stewardship ethic among citizens of all ages.
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Synopsis: Friends of the Boundary Waters have partnered with the outdoor outfitter/guide businesses in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness as well as the US Forest Service to conduct an economic contribution analysis of the BWCA wilderness. The analysis will be a model for wilderness areas across the country, leveraging outfitting businesses, wilderness groups, guide services, and outdoors people to analyze impact and potential for the region. The information from this analysis would be used by planners, elected officials, and land managers.
Leave No Trace’s Hot Spots
Location: Boulder, CO
Synopsis: As part of the Center’s Leave No Trace in Every Park initiative, “Hot Spots” aim to help land managers and other stakeholders take action within their communities to educate the recreating public about their impacts and how to best minimize those impacts.
By the end of 2016, Leave No Trace will have facilitated over 40 Hot Spots across the country. From national parks to city parks, from national forests to state forest, from conservation lands trusts to national monuments, Leave No Trace has been able to provide these week long efforts across the country and across the nation’s public lands spectrum.
Montana Wilderness Association’s Quiet Trails Program
Location: Helena, MT
Synopsis: The Montana Wilderness Association’s Quiet Trails Program unifies non-motorized recreationists through a combination of on-the-ground stewardship, which builds improved trail systems and improved relationships between disparate user groups, and on-the-books administrative protections, which results in connected, protected habitat for wildlife like grizzly bears, lynx, mountain goats, and wolverines.
The Quiet Trails Program includes leadership in Montana High Divide Trails, stewardship of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and a new online hiking guide, all of which strengthen relationships between non-motorized users, build the movement in support of public lands, and influence Forest Service travel planning decisions.
Mountains to Sound Greenway’s Middle Fork Snoqualmie Initiative
Location: Seattle, WA
Synopsis: The Middle Fork Snoqualmie Initiative is a coalition-based campaign aimed at ensuring recreational access and ecological stewardship of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Valley through public-private partnerships. The Middle Fork is an undeveloped, 99% publicly owned, montane watershed just 40 miles from Seattle and the region’s 3.6 million residents. It offers a vast array of outdoor recreation opportunities for users of diverse interests and all abilities — hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, whitewater paddling, bird-watching, picnicking, swimming, camping, backpacking, and climbing the nation’s longest sport-climbing route. All of these activities are set against the backdrop of a designated Wild and Scenic River, and gateway to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness – the closest proximity of a Wilderness area to any of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. The initiative seeks to leverage these extraordinary outdoor recreation opportunities for conservation gains by building and maintaining comprehensive recreational infrastructure that provides safe, sustainable access for people, and engages communities, businesses, and individuals in helping to steward the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Middle Fork.
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Hunting is Conservation
Location: Missoula, MT
Synopsis: Hunting is Conservation addresses the dwindling resources that public land agencies have to manage habitat, and highlights the role that sportsman play in helping fund management activities both through license purchases, and also through contributions to wildlife non-profits like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) who heavily support agency management activities. With the access program they strive to address the issue of the public not having access to large tracts of public lands. The challenge, to them, lies in helping facilitate solutions between agencies and private landowners who may have lands or roads that provide public access in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Tahoe Fund’s Take Care
Location: Tahoe City, CA
Synopsis: The mission of the Tahoe Fund is to improve the extraordinary natural environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin by building broad support and funding for projects and programs that restore and enhance the Lake for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
The result of the effort is Take Care, a campaign designed to motivate residents and visitors in the Tahoe Region to reduce their impact on the natural environment by uniting the multitude of agencies, groups and organizations into a unified voice on what individuals can do to help protect the local environment.
West Virginia Rivers Coalition
Location: Charleston, WV
Synopsis: The West Virginia Rivers Coalition (WVRC) was founded by paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts who care deeply about restoring and caring for the Mountain State’s renowned free-flowing waters and scenic beauty. Today, the WVRC is the statewide voice for water-based recreation and clean, drinkable, swimmable, and fishable rivers and streams–from the headwaters to wherever water flows in West Virginia. They are also the West Virginia state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. Their mission is to conserve and restore West Virginia’s exceptional rivers and streams. They believe that clean water is the foundation of life, and that all people should respect and be able to enjoy clean West Virginia rivers and streams.
Wild and Scenic Film Festival
Location: Nevada City, CA
Synopsis: The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in Nevada City unites the community to protect and restore the Yuba River watershed. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, a program of SYRCL, uses film to inspire activism and unite communities to protect and heal the earth.
Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Run the Red Desert
Location: Lander, WY
Synopsis: The Red Desert contains countless opportunities for enjoying wild spaces, including significant Wilderness Study Areas and other wilderness quality lands. In 2014 the inaugural race was run in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the 30th anniversary of the Wyoming Wilderness Act. This race continues to celebrate those achievements and our wild Wyoming places.
The Wyoming Outdoor Council, the Wyoming Wilderness Association, the National Outdoor Leadership School and other partners and sponsors invite runners and their families to experience this unique landscape while running the race, hiking near to the course, viewing the Boar’s Tusk, enjoying interpretations of the petroglyphs and more.
Location: Salida, CO
Synopsis: Veterans Expeditions seeks to empower veterans to overcome challenges associated with military service through outdoor training and leadership.
From their application: “We run service learning trips, conservation trips, etc., that get our vets out in service of the land they defended. An example of these trips is our ‘Bio Blitz’ trip series we run in support of the new Browns Canyon National Monument out of our home office in Salida, Colorado. These trips are citizen science type trips where our vets provide the labor for mapping projects, wildlife observation and recording, social trail and impact data, cultural history documentation, etc. These are very innovative partnerships with the BLM, USFS, State Parks, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Office, and many more. Our vets are playing a key role in identifying the resources of this brand new National Monument.”
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Synopsis: To understand the impact of plastic pollution, 5 Gyres studies the 5 subtropical gyres by sailing through them. 5 Gyres organizes research expeditions, inviting scientists, journalists and other sailors to join the crew, work with them side by side to conduct the science, and return to their communities engaged to promote solutions.
To communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution, 5 Gyres shares their findings through multimedia outlets and peer-reviewed publications. These include print and television media, websites and blogs, lectures and school outreach, and a traveling exhibition about plastic pollution to museums, science centers and aquariums.
BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: This award recognizes an outdoor company, be it retail, guide service, or other business, that leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Synopsis: Bramble Outdoor addresses three challenges in their work: First, they leverage outdoor products and content to engage the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts with conservation efforts in meaningful ways. Second, they help conservation non-profits bridge the gap from back-end policy work, and consumer-facing content and inspiration. Their goal is to help these organizations become more relevant with the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts through content marketing campaigns designed for a multi-platform audience and the digital age. Finally, their model allows these partner organizations to act as retailers without the inventory risk. This allows them to bring in a diversified revenue stream while engaging members with functional physical products.
First Lite’s Round Up
Location: Ketchum, ID
Synopsis: First Lite launched a program last year called ‘Round Up for Conservation’ that allows their customers to donate to one to four conservation non-profits per purchase. With the international success of First Lite, The Round Up campaign has been a major success in raising awareness in the hunting manufacturer space, and addresses their belief that every rec dollar should be tied to a conservation dollar.
Mountain Rider’s Alliance
Location: Westlake Village, CA
Synopsis: Mountain Rider’s Alliance has developed values-based, environmentally-friendly, rider-centric mountain playgrounds that encourage minimal carbon footprint business practices, while making a positive impact in the local community. They have created a consortium of like-minded community and independent ski areas that band together to reduce expenses, increase efficiencies and profits as well as bringing more exposure and awareness.
PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT INNOVATION: This award recognizes progressive land-management work taking place at local, state, or federal levels.
Climbing Resource Access Group (CRAG) Vermont
Location: Richmond, VT
Synopsis: CRAG-VT seeks to increase access to local climbing resources through direct acquisition, easement purchase or by working with landowners. In addition, they inform and advise the local climbing community on access limitations imposed by landowners or by unique natural communities.
Meryl Harrell, Sr. Advisor, United States Department of Agriculture; Leslie Weldon, Deputy to Chief of United States Forest Service; Joe Meade, Director of Recreation, United States Forest Service; and Chris Moyer, Special Recreation Permit Project Lead
Synopsis: According to the Outdoor Access Working Group, which nominated them, this group has been driving a transformation within the recreation special-use permitting process at the United States Forest Service that includes reinterpreting current policy to open up use for youth in the outdoors; re-evaluate National Environmental Protection Act and Social Analyses that limit access to facilitated, diverse groups; and pilot projects in several regions to grow access to Forest Service underutilized lands. In addition, the team is leading a transparency project in partnership with other agencies to create an interagency web platform.
Location: Wasatch Range, UT
Synopsis: The Accord is the culmination of two years’ worth of public feedback, stakeholder involvement and leadership decisions and was established to make critical decisions and implement solutions to preserve the Central Wasatch and ensure its long-term vitality. Among their objectives, they focus on environmental, transportation, recreation, and economy-focused outcomes.
TECHNOLOGY: New for 2016, the Technology Award recognizes an app, website, or other technology that promotes responsible recreation, access, or conservation leadership.
Location: Park City, UT
Synopsis: From their application: “We see a world in which Avatech will serve as a hub of real-time mountain information worldwide, helping local, regional, and global mountain communities work together to stay safe, grow their love and respect for the public lands we are so fortunate to play in, and deepen their connections to the outdoors
Brady Robinson, the executive director of the Access Fund and chair of the Outdoor Alliance, shared in his 2013 TED Talk The Nature Conservancy’s research that ‘outdoor experiences lead to conservation support.’ We truly believe that people’s outdoor experiences help them find a sense of place, and connection with the mountains – when people find ownership and relationship with the outdoors via recreation, we see them fight for its preservation. Our goal is to arm backcountry travelers, and the larger community of mountain lovers and outdoor recreationalists, with as much information as possible to provide a safe environment to allow that connection to happen.”
TOTAGO (Turn Off The App, Go Outside)
Location: Seattle, WA
Synopsis: The mission at TOTAGO is to inspire value and appreciation of the outdoors by facilitating access to parks, wilderness, and open space worldwide. TOTAGO leverages data and technology to enable and promote usage of public transportation for accessing parks and open space. They believe increasing access to the outdoors, especially for low-income populations in urban areas, is essential to creating awareness and ultimately ensuring sustainable conservation of parks and open space.
Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s YourCO
Location: Denver, CO
Synopsis: Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado’s (VOC) mission is to motivate and enable people to become active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources. VOC has, for over three decades, been at the forefront of effectively engaging Colorado’s public in caring for our state’s recreational amenities such as trails, parks and open spaces through large scale organized volunteer stewardship projects. Increasingly, however, they have been facing a much busier and less engaged public.
In 2015, VOC launched an innovative and first of its kind mobile App, YourCO, designed to make stewardship just as easy to do as it is to text a friend. The YourCO app offers folks of all ages and abilities simple stewardship suggestions that qualify for fun digital badges and outdoor recreational product prizes. Designed to appeal to families and younger outdoor enthusiasts, YourCO app users can upload images and share their experiences, eventually progressing through more and more activities, including VOC public projects, into community-based stewardship efforts on public recreational sites. As far as they know, VOC is the first stewardship organization in the nation to have a mobile App designed to get people caring for the outdoors.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: New for 2016, this award recognizes individuals, an initiative, or an organization that make innovative, impactful, and replicable contributions to the conservation/recreation world by engaging young people.
City Kids Wilderness Project
Location: Washington, D.C.
Synopsis: Since 1996, City Kids Wilderness Project has been serving under-resourced youth from DC’s most vulnerable communities. City Kids currently operates school year and summer programs for 130 under-resourced DC youth, enrolling new youth in the sixth grade and providing program support through middle school and high school.
Their programs exist to position participants for success in adulthood by getting them off to the right start as youth. Their goals include that youth graduate from high school or earn their GED, that they enroll in a postsecondary education program or obtain a job, and that they are involved and connected members of their community.
City Kids achieves this by enrolling 20 new 6th graders every year and shepherding them through a six year (or longer) process to realize their individual potential, and to set and begin to implement individualized future goals. During the school year they are based in Washington, DC, and provide afterschool and weekend outdoor adventure programming as well as job training and college preparation programming. In the summer they move to Jackson, WY, where they run three sessions of outdoor adventure summer camp, as well as career exploration and job training programming for their older youth.
Girls on Ice
Location: Fairbanks, AK
Synopsis: Girls on Ice is a unique, free, wilderness science education program for high school girls. Each year two teams of 9 teenage girls and 3 instructors spend 12 days exploring and learning about mountain glaciers and the alpine landscape through scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, ecologists, artists, and mountaineers. One team explores Mount Baker, an ice-covered volcano in the North Cascades of Washington State. The other team sleeps under the midnight sun exploring an Alaskan glacier.
The girls on the team learn not only about alpine geology, glaciology, and mountaineering, but they also challenge themselves and gain self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and social abilities. Girls on Ice is the science version of a “language immersion” experience – where we connect science with all aspects of daily life with the goal of creating lifelong advocates for Earth science, specifically, and the scientific process as a whole, regardless of whether or not they decide to specialize in science in college.
Grand Canyon Trust Uplift
Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Synopsis: Uplift is the only youth driven organization working to unite various efforts to address climate change across the Colorado Plateau. Recognizing that the outdoor recreation community is a critical component in the climate justice effort, they reach out to the recreation community in the region and hold talks and workshops at their annual conference that specifically address outdoor rec. At the 2015 Uplift Conference, organizers led a workshop that addressed how young people can combine their passion for outdoor recreation with environmental advocacy. Uplift 2016 plans to have a panel on diversity in outdoor recreation and how diversity is critical for sustainable conservation gains.
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
Synopsis (from their application): “The overwhelming majority of people are living in or near urban centers now; however, almost all outdoor education is designed to take these people far from their homes to ‘wild’ places. Although it’s important to experience nature in iconic beautiful locations, there is a growing disconnect between people and nature. This initiative is designed to help children and families connect with nature that is nearby their homes – in backyards, schoolyards, and public parks. We believe that by getting more comfortable with and connected to nature near their urban homes, these individuals will become better stewards for the environment (if you don’t know it/don’t touch it, how can you ever be expected to protect it)?”
Soul River Runs Wild
Location: Portland, OR
Synopsis: Soul River Runs Wild connects inner city youth and US military veterans to the outdoors through incredible outdoor educational experiences. By engaging U.S veterans as mentors for inner city youth, they believe that rich, powerful opportunities of healing authentically happen in the midst of Mother Nature. They believe that by connecting youth and veterans to our public lands, wild rivers and fresh waters, and beyond through genuine community, they will ultimately establish and inspire a new generation of outdoor ambassadors that will advocate for Mother Nature and conservation.