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Know the West

Conservation-business alliances


I enjoyed "The Hardest Climb" (HCN, 7/23/12), Greg Hanscom's cover story about the outdoor recreation industry's influence on conservation and public policy, as seen through the lens of Black Diamond Equipment and its CEO, Peter Metcalf. I'll admit self-interest while suggesting one meaty strand that Greg touches on but doesn't develop: the steady growth of working alliances and "marriages" among conservation groups, outdoor companies and related businesses. The relatively short arc of time covered in the story and the ups and downs within it may obscure the steady trend of success and sophistication in the business/conservation marriage.

These alliances are different in kind from how, for instance, oil and gas businesses operate in policy and politics. In some dimensions, they will often be far smaller in force and effect. In other dimensions, like place-based protection, though, they may be longer term and more durable. Conservation and business alliances can do things the Exxons of the world won't or can't.

Pat Ford
Executive director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
Boise, Idaho