Advocating for Human-Powered Recreation on Capitol Hill

CMC Conservation Manager Julie Mach recently returned from a trip to Washington DC where she represented the club and the Backcountry Snowsports Initiative alongside Outdoor Alliance (OA) recreation groups from around the country.

From left to right: Julie Mach (CMC), Aimee Ross (International Mountain Biking Association), Jason Bertolacci (International Mountain Biking Association), Jared Polis (US Representative), and Nathan Fey (American Whitewater).
From left to right: Julie Mach (CMC), Aimee Ross (International Mountain Biking Association), Jason Bertolacci (International Mountain Biking Association), Jared Polis (US Representative), and Nathan Fey (American Whitewater). 

The two-day event included advocacy workshops and a series of visits with Senators and House Representatives from Colorado.  The trip was hosted (and paid for!) by OA in an effort to bring together a broad spectrum of human-powered advocates representing hikers, climbers, paddlers, cyclists and skiers.  Through OA and our local chapter Outdoor Alliance Colorado (OAC), we speak as a collective voice for access and protection of public lands. 

Attendees included staff and volunteers from the International Mountain Bike Association, American Whitewater, the Access Fund, Winter Wildlands Alliance, American Canoe Association, Colorado Mountain Club, the Mountaineers (Washington State), the Mazamas (Oregon), Wasatch Backcountry Alliance (Utah), Washington Trails Assoc., Wood River Bike Coalition, Boise Climbers Alliance and more.

The first day started out with a round of introductions and the realization that, although folks were there to represent a single user group, most individuals were multi-sport enthusiasts with a passion for a variety of outdoor activities.  This likely holds true for many of our members and confirms the need for collaboration to achieve our collective goals.  With this in mind, the group participated in a series of training workshops and activities to discuss advocacy best-practices, refine messaging for OA, and prepare for meetings with congressional delegates.  Biggest takeaways:  say thanks, treat your meeting like a first date, give them interesting data, make an ask, take pictures and remember that they are people, too.

On the second day, the OA group broke up into their geographic teams and the Colorado contingency (CMC and local reps from IMBA and American Whitewater) made the rounds on Capitol Hill.  OAC spoke with staff from Bennett’s, Polis’s, Lamborn’s and Tipton’s offices about a host of legislative issues including:

  • Brown’s Canyon National Monument (currently awaiting executive authorization)
  • National Defense Authorization Act (which includes the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, passed Dec. 12)
  • National Forest System Trail Stewardship Act (H.R. 4886)
  • Eagle and Summit County Recreation and Wilderness Preservation Act (H.R.5311)

The OA group then spent the afternoon with agency staff from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to discuss upcoming Forest and Resource Management planning, adaptive management strategies and the over-snow vehicle rule, among other items.  Overall the trip was an incredible opportunity to build relationships with decision-makers in DC and also with the local OA groups who are working from the ground up to make significant, lasting changes to protect access and recreation on public lands and waters across the country!


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