The Conservation Alliance hosts 3-day summit at YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch

The summit brought hundreds of conservation leaders, businesses and brands from across North America

A panel discussion at The Conservation Alliance's Summit about public lands, climate change, equity and the future of conservation in North America. The discussion featured speakers (from left to right): Shoren Brown, the vice president of Public Affairs for The Conservation Alliance; Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Tracy Stone-Manning, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management; and Sean Babington, senior advisor for climate in the Office of the Secretary (USDA).
Bergeen Photography/The Conservation Alliance Summit

Editor’s note: This article has been changed to clarify the location of the summit.

Last week hundreds of businesses, brands and conservation leaders from across North America convened near Winter Park for The Conservation Alliance Summit. The three-day retreat was focused on creating a space for businesses that value outdoor spaces, community-centered conservation and wild places unite under a common agenda for equitable land and water conservation.

The Conservation Alliance‘s website states that it is a visual led coalition that funds and advocates for the protection of wild places and outdoor spaces. This year the alliance partnered with the Outdoor Industry Association, which is a membership-driven trade organization for the outdoor industry and considers itself to be the voice of the outdoor recreation industry.

By connecting through intimate group discussions, workshops and participating in outdoor activities, attendees learned how to become better advocates for equitable conservation work. Attendees also listened to keynote speakers from organizations such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

Breakout sessions were purposefully intimate at the summit to foster deep, meaningful conversations.
Bergeen Photography/The Conservation Alliance

Nicole Rom, executive director of The Conservation Alliance, says this was the alliance’s first summit since the pandemic, and approximately 200 people attended.

“There are 60 speakers and 19 of our grantees coming together to discuss issues like climate change, equitable access and biodiversity loss, and how that integrates with our public lands and what we can do together to unite around a conservation vision for the future,” Rom said in an interview with Sky-Hi News.

The Conservation Alliance chose YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Grand County as the location for the summit because Colorado is a state that has a mix of active people in the conservation community, elected officials that are pro-conservation and great outdoor access.

“So, it checked all of our boxes, which was pretty incredible,” Rom said.

Attendees also listened to keynote speakers who are some of the greatest minds in the outdoor industry, according to The the Conservation Alliance.

A group discussion at The Conservation Alliance’s Summit, which was held in Winter Park.
The Conservation Alliance/Courtesy photo

A federal panel was held on the second day of the summit with Brenda Mallory, the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Tracy Stone-Manning, the director of the Bureau of Land Management; and Sean Babington, a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The panel spoke about integrating responses to climate change, equity and biodiversity at the federal level.

The summit also focused on grassroots work happening across the country. In Colorado, The Conservation Alliance is working on securing protections for the Dolores River.

“I would definitely say there’s been a theme around local place-based climate equity, and outdoor recreation are definitely big threads woven throughout that are of interest of our members,” Rom said.

According to Rom, the breakout sessions offered at the summit provided intimate conversations that allowed attendees to really dig into issues with a maximum of 20 people attending each session. These type of discussion bring together members in the outdoor industry and adjacent industries who care about conservation and intersecting issues.

The Conservation Alliance’s Executive Director Nicole Rom speaks at the summit.
Bergeen Photography/The Conservation Alliance Summit

“The Conservation Alliance is always open to adding new business members who care about wild places and want to join and be a part of our grant-making and advocacy efforts,” she said. “For those that aren’t in the business community, know that there is a real large coalition of organizations that are working on behalf of our public lands.”

On top of the summit tackling conservation issues that will benefit the Colorado community and beyond, it also benefits Grand County in terms of sales tax revenue. The county collects a 1.3% sales tax from attendees when they purchase goods, food, beverages and souvenirs, according to Grand County’s Communication Director Christine Travis.

“It’s nearly impossible to say how many souvenirs attendees purchased and drinks they may have had at a bar, etc. during their stay,” Travis stated in an email. “Tourism in general, though, is a significant source of revenue for the County and all six towns.”

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.