Keep Showing Up
On February 26, 2019, Congress passed a package of public lands bills that protects nearly 2.5 million acres of public land and 676 miles of rivers throughout the United States. The Natural Resources Management Act (S.47) was a momentous bipartisan effort that was signed into law on March 12, 2019.
At Ruffwear, we were especially excited to see the Oregon Wildlands Act included in the public lands package. Oregon Wildlands protects 30,000 acres of the Devil’s Staircase area as Wilderness, designates 252 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Rogue and Molalla River watersheds, and protects the Chetco River from mining activity. In addition to protections in our backyard, we were thrilled to see 30,000 acres adjacent to Yellowstone National Park permanently protected from gold mining. We featured this conservation effort in our More Valuable Than Gold story last fall, and we loved following the news this winter as the legislation crossed the finish line. Read more about the public lands package and what was included here.
In early March, The Conservation Alliance and 40 representatives from its 235 outdoor & craft beer industry member companies traveled to Washington, DC. The purpose of this yearly fly-in is to align ourselves as a cohesive industry with a clear set of legislative priorities. As a group, we are a force than can make an impact. By continuing to show up in DC each year, we are able to make in-person connections and develop relationships over time. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about advocating for wild places and waterways, it’s that it takes time. The recent public lands package is a great example — it was 10 years in the making.
The DC fly-in was a quick trip. We spent one day getting up to speed on the political climate and other happenings in DC within the context of conservation. The following day, we broke into groups of 6-7 people and met with members of Congress and their staff. In these meetings, we have 20-30 minutes to introduce ourselves, express our thanks, share priorities, discuss members’ positions on potential legislation, ask questions, and make requests. Time flies, and then we’re bustling across Capitol Hill to our next meeting.
Ruffwear was in a group with other Northwest companies like KEEN, Outdoor Research, Columbia Sportswear, Duct Tape Then Beer, Superfeet, and the non-profit American Whitewater (one of The Conservation Alliance’s grantees). We met with Senator Merkley (OR), Senator Murray (WA), Senator Wyden (OR), Congresswoman Delbene (WA), Congressman Schrader (OR), Senator Cantwell (WA), and Congressman Kilmer (WA). We thanked and congratulated members on the recent public lands success. We asked them what’s next: What about the Arctic? What about the Roadless Rule that protects swaths of old growth in our National Forests from having additional roads cut through them? What about protections that didn’t make it into the recent legislation?
We asked members what we can do to help. The answer was: Keep showing up. Keep speaking up, sending letters and emails, making phone calls, going to town halls, and setting up meetings. Keep writing Op-Eds. Keep making grassroots efforts and creating campaigns. Keep working together. Keep telling stories about these incredible places that deserve to be protected for their habitat and recreation values.
Even though it’s a whirlwind trip, it’s worth our time to keep showing up and speaking up for public lands and waterways because it really does make a difference.
Just one week after returning home to Bend, we got word that Oregon Congressional Members, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer, would be hosting a Public Lands Forum in Portland. We joined representatives of the outdoor industry, outdoor recreation and tourism companies, and conservation organizations from all regions of Oregon — And we showed up.
We packed the house at about 150 people. After introductions, everyone had about two minutes to speak. It was incredible to hear from people who had driven across to Oregon (5-6 hours of driving) to make their two minute statement.
Here’s what Ruffwear employee Alli had to say on behalf of public lands:
Thank you, Senator Wyden and Representative Blumenauer. Thank you, Mazamas, for hosting us today.
My name is Alli Miles. I’m with Ruffwear, a Bend-based company that makes outdoor gear for dogs. Our company was founded in the outdoors, on a mountain bike ride with a thirsty dog and no water bowl. Today, Ruffwear is made up of 43 humans – and about the same number of dogs – most of whom live and work in Bend.
We bring our dogs to work every day. At lunch and after work, we run, bike, and hike on trails that are right outside our office doors. This work environment not only helps us recruit and retain talented people. It shapes our office culture, the work we do, and the Ruffwear brand.
Ruffwear’s mission is to enhance and inspire outdoor adventure for humans and dogs. Our customers are outdoor people from all over the United States and 60 countries. Our business is built on — and depends on — people sharing outdoor experiences with their dogs.
In the past year, we renovated our office building and created a co-working space called Embark. The idea behind Embark is building community, sharing ideas and resources, cultivating creativity and collaboration, and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit. When construction is complete later this year, Embark will be home to 50 companies. We believe this community will help grow the outdoor industry in Central Oregon.
Ruffwear is now a 25 year old company. We would not exist without protected lands and waterways where people and dogs can go to play. We would not have the incredible team of employees that we do, without access to wild places in Oregon.
For these reasons, Ruffwear supports protections for iconic landscapes in Oregon, including Sutton Mountain, the Owyhee, and the Rogue and Molalla watersheds.
And we mean it — Ruffwear was founded on public lands and our well-being, both as a collection of individuals and as an outdoor gear company, depends on access to wild places. That is why we’ll keep showing up.
And we hope you will, too.