KEEN and American Whitewater Make A Difference In Our Landscape

American Whitewater, Conservation Alliance grantee and nation-wide advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers, is doing great work. Their efforts have lead to securing flow protections for iconic Colorado rivers, blocking the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Project on the Yampa River, and dam removals including the Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River (NC) and the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River (WA).

The photo is of Green River in Desolation Canyon. This segment is threatened by large-scale water withdraws, oil & gas development, and potential Oil Shale and Tar Sands leases. AW and its conservation partners have recently succeeded in opposing the Regional Watershed Supply Project, which would have taken 81 Million gallons of water out of this river every year. Photo: Kent Vertrees, AW Volunteer

But they aren’t doing this work alone.

The Conservation Alliance has funded American Whitewater (AW) eight times since 1993, contributing close to $250,000 to their campaigns to protect North America’s last wild rivers.  But equally important to the success of these campaigns, AW has developed relationships with Conservation Alliance members; like-minded outdoor industry businesses passionate about protecting the landscape where their customers recreate.

When asked Mark Singleton, Executive Director of AW, to tell us about an outstanding partnership he has with a Conservation Alliance member company, without a moment of hesitation, he shared a narrative about KEEN, Inc. an outdoor footwear brand based in Portland, Oregon.

When KEEN started making shoes in 2003, they made a promise to themselves.  If their footwear caught on, they would do things differently.  The shoe with the big toe bumper proved a huge success, and true to their promise, KEEN is actively working for change.  They are in the game, not sitting on the sidelines.  KEEN’s partnership with American Whitewater is an excellent example of this involvement and has been instrumental in AW’s success in bringing down dams, protecting water flows, and providing human-powered recreationalist with places to play.

“Our partnership with KEEN looks to the future,” said American Whitewater Executive Director Mark Singleton. “We both see a world where healthy rivers have a vital role in supporting the well-being of all those who enjoy the great outdoors.”

When the Obama Administration needed a venue for an American’s Great Outdoors listening session, KEEN stepped up and opened their Portland space for a home grown session, resulting comments and input that were included in the final AGO report delivered to the Whitehouse.

At the Summer 2011 Outdoor Retailer tradeshow in Salt Lake City, Utah, KEEN hosted America Whitewater in their booth, raising awareness and funds for the Colorado River Stewardship Campaign; ultimately resulting in protecting river flows in the Upper Colorado Basin and halting the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Project.

Support, both financial and personal, were instrumental in the Dillsboro and Condit Dam removal projects – and KEEN staff has helped to celebrate these achievements through site visits and attending the breach and party for the Condit Dam removal.

KEEN’s support has also been influential in increased AW membership levels and credibility on the national scene.  Through KEEN product membership incentives, American Whitewater increased their membership by 13% in 2011; allowing AW to have an elevated voice with local and national elected officials.  KEEN has also been a strong and continual voice in Washington DC, demonstrating how protecting our wild places is an economic win.

Setting the bar high, American Whitewater and KEEN are working together, joining forces and making a difference in our landscape.  Click these links to learn more about American Whitewater.

Written by Serena Bishop, Conservation Alliance