SHIFT 2017: The Business Case for Public Lands



Dates: November 1-3, 2017
Location: Snow King Resort, Jackson, Wyoming



Held each autumn in Jackson Hole, SHIFT is an annual gathering that brings together stakeholders from the outdoor rec, cultural relevancy, conservation and land-management communities to advance the protection of our public lands. Set at the forefront of The 2017 SHIFT Festival, which runs from November 1-3, is The SHIFT Summit. This year’s Summit explores the economic case for public lands: how investments in outdoor recreation and public lands create local economic prosperity and contribute to vibrant, resilient communities across the U.S.

Background and Objectives

SHIFT’s goal is to help advance the collective agenda of its stakeholder coalition—an alliance of the outdoor recreation, conservation, land management and cultural relevancy communities—by amplifying and supporting existing, complementary efforts. Its focus exists at the intersection of recreation, conservation and cultural relevancy. At its core, these interests are united by the need for access to healthy, well-managed public lands and waters.

SHIFT strives to bring together leaders, groups and networks that are working on similar issues but might otherwise operate independently. Our goal is to promote greater information sharing and improved coordination among natural allies, which in turn results in a more effective and unified movement for the protection of our public lands.

The broader objectives of the 2017 SHIFT Festival are to:

  • Create a hub for interested participants who do not ordinarily interact to discuss challenges and opportunities, exchange information and share experiences;
  • Facilitate networking and strengthen coalitions among disparate groups working to protect our public lands, waters and wildlife;
  • Raise awareness and promote adoption of principles and practices that leverage outdoor rec for conservation gains.

The Emerging Leaders Program

Immediately preceding SHIFT, The Emerging Leaders Program (“ELP”) will train a diverse group of outdoor recreationists and conservation advocates, ages 21-30, to help lead the conversations at The Summit. ELP includes three days of preparatory work, executed in conjunction with our partners at The Teton Science Schools, that familiarizes participants with the Festival topics. Upon conclusion of the training, participants are prepared to help lead the proceedings at SHIFT as panelists and keynote speakers. By integrating millennials, urban and rural, into the Festival’s programming in substantive and meaningful ways, ELP helps insure the work done at SHIFT is relevant to all Americans.

Keynote Speakers

Each evening, SHIFT features programs that will explore topics related to this year’s theme.

  • On Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 7-9 p.m., the program “Bears Ears: 10,000 Years of Public Land” will feature 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection Utah Diné Bikéyah Board Member and Spiritual Advisor Jonah Yellowman, UDB Community Specialist (and Arizona State Representative) Eric Descheenie, and Cynthia Wilson, UDB’s Traditional Foods Program Director, in a celebration of 10,000+ years of traditional knowledge, sovereignty and the creation of Bears Ears.
  • On Thursday, Nov. 2, Girltrek Founder Morgan Dixon and film-making conservationist James Q Martin will explore the relationship between race and outdoor recreation with a program entitled, “Common Ground: Diversity, Inclusion and the Future of Our Public Lands.” GirlTrek is a is a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection.
  • On Friday, Nov. 3, The 2017 SHIFT Festival will conclude with Jackson Hole’s foodie event of the year, The People’s Banquet, featuring Lucas St. Clair, who, as President of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., led a twelve-year effort to establish the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine. (Elliotsville Plantation, Inc., is a 2017 SHIFT Award Official Selection.) The People’s Banquet celebrates the local food system with a matchup of the valley’s finest chefs and best producers. The evening begins with locally sourced cocktails and hor d’ouevres, followed, at 6:30 p.m., by St. Clair’s presentation. The banquet begins at 8:00.

Satellite Events

Lunch-time discussions and happy hour complement the main programming throughout the SHIFT Festival.

  • On Wednesday, from 5-7 p.m., 2017 SHIFT Award Adventure Athlete Official Selections Luke Nelson, Shelma Jun, Miho Aida and Forrest Shearer will participate in the Happy Hour discussion, The Modern-Day Activist. The happy hour will explore how we can elevate responsible recreation as a behavioral norm in the human-powered outdoor rec community, connect all people to the outdoors, and engage them in the decision-making processes that affect the places in which we play.
  • On Thursday, from 5-7 p.m., representatives from NativesOutdoors, FlashFoxy, MelaninBasecamp and other social media accounts will discuss the influence of social media on who we expect to see outside, and how we can use grassroots mediums to challenge the prevailing narrative of the outdoor recreation community, in the Happy Hour discussion, “You Gotta See It To Be It: How social media born in cities is changing the face of who’s outside.”


2017 SHIFT Summit Guiding Questions and Sub-Themes

For 2017, SHIFT is driven to answer the question, How do we leverage the fact that investments in outdoor recreation and the conservation of public lands promote local economic prosperity?”

To answer this question, the 2017 SHIFT Festival will feature three major topics, each with a core discussion question:

  1. Closing the Nature Gap: How does access to public lands in urban areas support economic prosperity, healthy citizens and the next generation of stewards?
  2. Community Futures: How do we use investments in outdoor recreation and conservation of public lands to create vibrant, resilient communities?
  3. The Economic Case: How do we use the economic power of outdoor rec and public lands to influence federal, state and local decisions?

In addition, SHIFT will feature select SHIFT Award Official Selections (see below) in a showcase of the most innovative, impactful and replicable work in the country, and two workshops designed to create playbooks for the creation of state offices of outdoor recreation and business alliances that can advocate on behalf of public lands.

Closing the Nature Gap

85% of Americans today live in urban areas. In cities across the country, parks, trails and open spaces enhance property values, increase tax revenues, attract and retain high-paying businesses and highly skilled workers and boost economic prosperity. Open spaces in urban areas are key to the future of our public lands, for without that initial introduction to nature and its benefits, the next generation of Americans will never become invested in their preservation.

At a time when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside, and rising childhood obesity rates adds billions of dollars to health care costs, public lands also improve the mental and physical health of American citizens.

This track focuses on the value of public land investments where most Americans live: in urban areas.

Specific panels include:

  • Gyms to Crags: How climbing gyms in cities around America are engaging the most diverse generation of outdoor recreationists in history—and how we insure they transition outside with their diversity and stewardship ethic intact
  • Green Jobs, Urban Playgrounds: How do we connect employment and conservation in nontraditional communities?
  • Meet Me Where I’m At: How planning departments and nonprofits are working with communities to connect people to parks

Community Futures

Public lands are economic assets. As Headwaters Economics notes, “[C]ounties with more federal lands or protected federal lands perform better on average than their peers with less federal lands or protected federal lands in key economic measures.”

This track focuses on investments in and conservation of public lands as a way to drive economic prosperity in communities around America.

Specific panels include:

  • Transition Towns: How communities around America—particularly ones for whom logging, mining, and oil and gas have been the historic economic engines—are using investments in public lands and outdoor recreation to drive economic growth
  • Beyond Tourism: How public lands and the quality of life they promote can attract entrepreneurs, who in turn can create economic diversity
  • The Designation Effect: How the economies of national monument gateway communities around the country have been impacted by the designations

Governors John Hickenlooper (CO) and Matt Mead (WY) meet before kicking off SHIFT 2016

The Economic Case

Elected officials require good information to advocate on behalf of public lands. When business owners and landowners join the coalition of public land advocates, doors open, political leaders listen and legislation advances. This track looks at ways the economic case for public lands can advance their cause.

Specific panels include:

  • The Rec Act: How The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account fits into the big picture of the American economy, and how the information it generates can effect legislative decision-making
  • Advocacy and The Bottom Line: Why companies like Patagonia, Simms, First Light and KEEN took positions on public lands and how they fared as a result
  • The OR Trade Show Leaves Utah: A case study of an industry, political power, what we learned and what comes next


SHIFT for the Planet

The 2017 SHIFT Festival will kick off on November 1 with SHIFT for the Planet, a collaboration with 1% for the Planet, Silicon Couloir, George B. Storer Foundation and The Blue Sky Funders Forum that connects the most innovative, impactful and replicable work in the country with an audience of funders and peers.

The event is designed to help nonprofit organizations in the conservation, experiential education, and outdoor recreation communities connect with cause-focused funders, and provide such funders with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of and relationships with organizations at the front lines of the outdoor recreation/conservation partnership.

How It Will Work: Each year, as part of The SHIFT Awards, our researchers identify individuals, organizations and initiatives from around the United States that leverage outdoor recreation for conservation gains. We evaluate them using three criteria: Impact, Innovation and Replicability. (Criteria may be found here.)

On Wednesday, November 1, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., SHIFT will invite Award finalists who are also 1% for the Planet nonprofit partners to present their work in a series of five-minute overviews to an audience that includes both funders and peers. Award finalists will present what they’re doing, what’s working, and a central challenge that handicaps their work, thus inviting the audience to help crowdsource the solution.

SHIFT for the Planet will be followed by two days of The SHIFT Summit, which is designed to facilitate networking between businesses, organizations and individuals working to protect our public lands. There, funders and nonprofits will have the opportunity to continue their interactions as we explore 2017’s focus.

State Offices of Outdoor Recreation Workshop

Offices of outdoor recreation are working to reinvigorate local economies, improve public health, and protect our lands, waters and wildlife around the country. This workshop, designed to develop a playbook for the creation of state offices of outdoor rec, will begin with a panel discussion featuring representatives from Montana, Vermont, California, Rhode Island, Oregon and Wyoming, who will share lessons learned from their efforts to create offices in their states. It will be followed by a “Campaign Workshop” in which participants work in teams assembled by geography (i.e., New England, Southeast, West Coast, etc.) to develop an actionable plan for office creation in their respective regions.

Business Alliances Workshop

State-wide and regional business alliances such as Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance and the Pikes’ Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance are successfully harnessing industry voices to advance public land issues. Other models, such as Business for Montana’s Outdoors and the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, include business interests outside the outdoor recreation industry. Taken together, such alliances offer a powerful tool that is greatly underleveraged in contemporary conservation: coalitions of business interests that advocate on behalf of public lands. This workshop features representatives from successful business alliances from around the country discussing how they were formed, the obstacles they’ve overcome and how they are applying their stakeholder coalitions for collective impact. A panel discussion will be followed by break-out groups in which participants work with alliance representatives to create playbooks for the development of business alliances in their home states.


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