Wasatch Mountains, Utah. Photo by Adam Clark

ABOUT WINTER WILDLANDS ALLIANCE

At the crossroads of conservation and recreation, Winter Wildlands Alliance is the national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving winter wildlands and a quality human-powered snowsports experience on public lands.

Founded in 2000, Winter Wildlands Alliance speaks up for the soul of winter. As a national community that supports 100+ grassroots environmental organizations and backcountry partners, we advocate for policies that preserve and protect public lands and wild winter refuge. We also believe that engaging with current and future generations of winter backcountry travelers is essential in safeguarding the places that we love. As a result, every year our SnowSchool program takes 35,000+ kids outside for science-based winter field trips, and our Backcountry Film Festival tours 100+ locations worldwide to raise $180,000+ for local mountain communities.

Building on a string of successes in policy and education, the organization is accelerating into a new chapter of outreach and engagement with winter advocates locally and nationwide.

SUMMARY OF POSITION

The Executive Director is the chief executive officer with strategic and operational responsibility across the organization’s staff, programs, mission, annual goals, fundraising, and administration.

Examples of General Duties:

  • Alongside the Board of Directors, develop strategic objectives that further the mission and goals of the organization.
  • Effectively and efficiently operationalize those strategic objectives.
  • Recruit, retain, support, and manage high-quality staff, consultants, and contractors.
  • Engage, energize, and proactively communicate with staff and board.
  • Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence and rigorous program evaluation.
  • Operate within approved budgets, maximize resource utilization, and generally ensure sound fiscal management.
  • Raise funds and cultivate donors to accomplish mission and ensure the long-term financial stability, success, and growth of the organization.
  • Develop, maintain, and support a strong Board of Directors.
  • Enable the Board, with the Board President, to fulfill its governance functions.
  • Integrate the conservation and recreation components of the organization’s mission and engage deeply with the backcountry and conservation communities.
  • Represent and proactively promote the organization.
  • Oversee, evolve, and communicate the Winter Wildlands Alliance vision and brand.
  • Establish and execute sound organizational systems, processes, policies, procedures, and recordkeeping.
  • Conduct business in a professional and businesslike manner.

Examples of Specific Duties:

  • Establish a kind, responsive, and open atmosphere within the office and with partners, donors, members, vendors, and other constituents.
  • Support, coach and manage staff, providing mentorship, leadership, vision, accessibility, and opportunities for growth. Provide clear expectations and ensure accountability.
  • Identify, track, measure, and analyze key performance indicators tied to program evaluation, funding, and other organizational objectives.
  • Obtain funding in the form of grants, donations, memberships, events and other revenues.
  • Oversee development of sophisticated outreach, membership, and fundraising programs.
  • Create transparent, thoughtful, strategic, and forward-thinking annual budgets that align with programmatic and organizational objectives.
  • Proactively advocate for the organization and mission through omnichannel outreach, including public speaking, media/PR/op-eds, and marketing.
  • Develop, cultivate, and leverage strategic partnerships.
  • Manage, negotiate, and sign contracts.
  • Serve as a board member of Outdoor Alliance, which nationally represents the greater human-powered outdoor community.
  • Develop and document relationships with supporters of the mission of the organization.
  • Keep budgetary, financial, and project records in a systematic manner sufficient to enable the easy transfer of responsibilities.
  • Other duties as required.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

We expect a minimum of 5 years of leadership experience in the conservation/recreation, non-profit, advocacy, or for-profit arena. Additionally, candidate must have:

  • A deep and personal commitment to the Winter Wildlands Alliance mission and a passion for winter and the outdoors.
  • Visionary leadership paired with a get-it-done attitude.
  • Considerable and demonstrable success in leading fundraising efforts, including experience soliciting and cultivating major donors, foundations, and private corporations in support of program and operational activities.
  • Proven success in membership program development.
  • Experience with organizational leadership and effectively managing a team.
  • Excellent writing, editing, verbal, interpersonal, and organizational skills.
  • Inspirational public speaking skills.
  • Familiarity and savvy across a broad spectrum of relevant technology and software.
  • A strong public lands policy/advocacy background.
  • Familiarity with volunteer work.
  • While optional, musical talents are valued highly by the “backcountry buskers” on the staff and board.

REPORTING AND EXPECTATIONS

The Executive Director reports to the Winter Wildlands Alliance Board of Directors. The board will conduct an initial 6-month review and an annual review each year thereafter. The Executive Director position is a full-time role classified as Exempt from FLSA overtime requirements.  

LOCATION

Strong preference to be based at Winter Wildlands Alliance headquarters in Boise, Idaho.

COMPENSATION

Competitive salary (commensurate with experience) plus exceptional employee and health benefits.

APPLY

Email resume, cover letter, and salary requirements by February 27, 2019 to careers@winterwildlands.org.

Winter Wildlands Alliance is an equal opportunity employer and values diversity. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and organizational needs.

 

Board Begins Search for New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Winter Wildlands Alliance bids a heartfelt farewell to Mark Menlove for his service to the cause of protecting and inspiring the backcountry winter experience on public lands. His leadership truly has helped keep both our winters and our spirits wild.

As we wish him well in his new adventures and look forward to seeing him in the backcountry, we are excited to build on his 14 years of service by identifying a new Executive Director who will move our unique mission forward in the years to come.

At the crossroads of conservation and recreation, Winter Wildlands Alliance is the national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving winter wildlands and a quality human-powered snowsports experience on public lands. We are proud to support more than 100 grassroots environmental organizations and backcountry partners, advocating for policies that preserve and protect public lands and wild winter refuge.

The Executive Director will have the opportunity not only to guide our policy work, but also to support our amazing staff who operate a growing Backcountry Film Festival that tours in 100+ locations worldwide, and who manage a SnowSchool program that gets 35,000+ young people outside on snow each year for hands-on watershed and snow science experiences.

We hope you will consider this opportunity and share it with your backcountry network.

Keeping Winter Wild,

The Winter Wildlands Alliance Board of Directors

John Garder, President
Jennifer Bock
Tony Ferlisi
Michael Fiebig
Harold Hallstein
Erik Lambert
Rich Meyer
Jennifer Miller
Sam Roberts
Katie Strong
Scott White
Laura Yale

Shutdown forces closure of Mt. Rainier National Park to vehicles. KOMO News Photo  (Click to read full story.)

As the federal government shutdown drags on, its impacts are being felt by people across the country and in all walks of life, including backcountry skiers and other snowsports enthusiasts.

The vast majority of winter backcountry recreation occurs on Forest Service and Park Service lands, and since the shutdown began most of the people who care for these lands and manage the recreation that occurs upon them have been temporarily laid off from their jobs. 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed and those who are working must do so without a paycheck. Although in some places volunteers and partner organizations have stepped in to pick up trash and stock and clean outhouses, or even pay some federal employees so that they can do their jobs, this only makes up for a very small amount of what the federal agencies do. Of course backcountry skiers and the public at large, prefer to be able to access and enjoy public lands, but access without management can lead to big issues.

Access and Safety

Photo credit: National Park Service

Many of the roads and trailheads that are normally plowed for winter access are not currently being plowed or maintained. For example, all vehicle access to Rainier National Park is closed during the shutdown, and while you can walk in, there’s nowhere to park outside of the Park, therefore essentially eliminating access to Rainier. With Rainier closed, ski guides and avalanche courses are re-routing to places on Forest Service land, such as Mt Baker, increasing crowding in already busy areas.

While there are some roads on federal land that are plowed by non-federal entities, or roads that access communities and therefore must be plowed for the purposes of public safety (such as the road through Yellowstone National Park that accesses Cooke City, MT), agency staff are not able to respond to emergency calls. Although local search and rescue teams remain active, the lack of agency staffing may slow down rescues because search and rescue teams won’t have access to valuable information and logistical support. Therefore, those venturing into the backcountry, and even remote frontcountry areas, are at an elevated risk.

Trail grooming is also curtailed during the shutdown. In some areas local businesses are stepping up to cover grooming costs because their business depends on visitor access to groomed trails. Of course, in many places local partners already do the bulk of trail grooming and this grooming is not impacted by the shutdown. But, many cross-country ski trails are maintained by the Forest Service or Park Service and these trails will not be groomed during the shutdown.

Park Service Plan Would Fund Maintenance During Shutdown (Montana Public Radio)

Finally, although law enforcement staff and avalanche forecasters are still working during the shutdown because their jobs are considered essential for public safety, they’re not getting paid. For weeks. Think about that the next time you check the avalanche forecast.

Management and Stewardship

During past shutdowns National Parks have been closed to public entry, but the Trump administration has changed this policy, keeping most of the gates open despite not having any staff on hand to manage visitation. As a result, trash and filthy outhouses in National Parks have gotten a lot of press over the last couple of weeks. These are highly visible reminders of some of the essential services that federal employees provide for the public. In many places, especially popular winter recreation areas and National Parks, volunteers have stepped in to empty trash cans and clean or re-stock outhouses. Stories about the public helping to care for public lands in this visceral way have made the rounds from National Public Radio to local newspapers. However, stewardship runs much deeper than trash and toilet paper and visitor management is much more than cleaning up after the visitors. Public land managers maintain facilities, protect natural resources, and help the public to better understand and appreciate the places they visit, among many other duties.

Photo Credit: Mono County Supervisor Stacy Corless (via Facebook)

Unfortunately, some in the motorized community see the government shutdown as an opportunity to ride in Wilderness areas and other places that are closed to motor vehicles to protect natural resources, wildlife, or opportunities for quiet recreation. Stories and photos of snowmobiles riding past “no snowmobiling” signs, or high-marking Wilderness bowls are proliferating across social media as the shutdown continues. We’re quite disappointed in the lack of respect that this behavior demonstrates and we hope that our counterparts in the motorized community will soon speak out against such activities. If you see illegal snowmobile use you can document it and report it to the local Forest Service office once it re-opens. Documentation should include geo-located photos (use a smartphone), identifying features such as license plates or registration stickers, and any other information that will help law enforcement investigate and cite violators.

National Parks Face Years of Damage from Government Shutdown (National Geographic)

Finally, right now, all planning – from forest plans to timber sales – is on hold, adding delay to already lengthy processes. Partnerships, collaboratives, and other non-governmental efforts that complement these planning processes are ongoing, but without a major partner at the table – the Forest Service/BLM/Park Service – there’s only so much everybody else can do.

Research and Education

All Forest Service and Park Service/Department of Interior SnowSchool sites are closed during the shutdown. Every year Winter Wildlands Alliance’s 65-site National SnowSchool program introduces thousands of students to winter ecology and the joy of exploring public lands on snowshoes. Pulling this off depends on a complex series of community partnerships/collaborations at the local level. Every community and SnowSchool site is structured a little different, but many SnowSchool sites depend on the USFS or NPS/DOI playing a critical leadership role.

Government Shutdown Causes Slowdown in Scientific Research (NPR NEWS)

During the shutdown USFS and NPS conservation education and interpretation staff are furloughed (placing significant financial stress on these professionals). And as most public schools are back this week from the holiday break, we have seen the first wave of cancelled SnowSchool field trips. Thus far this scenario applies to about a dozen SnowSchool sites. It is difficult to gauge the cumulative impact of this as the shutdown is ongoing. However, hundreds of students can be served by just a handful of sites during a single day of SnowSchool. So if the shutdown continues it could impact thousands of would-be SnowSchool students. With a finite number of winter days and site coordinators’ limited ability to reschedule, this likely means many kids will miss out on their SnowSchool experience this year.

The good news is that SnowSchool sites operated by nordic centers, nature centers, school districts and other non-profits are still open and taking out their first groups of students this week!

Weather station maintenance – one of many services on hold during the shutdown

The shutdown is also impacting many scientific research efforts. Some of these projects directly tie into the work we do, and many more are critical to understanding climate change and snow. For example, WWA SnowSchool’s plans to collaborate with the 2019 NASA SnowEx campaign are on hold due to the shutdown. During SnowEx, NASA aircraft fly overhead in states across the West and scan mountain snowpack with new sophisticated sensors designed to detect snow water content. The plan was to have students at SnowSchool sites in relevant locations hand-collect snowpack data and send it to NASA scientists to be compared with aircraft gathered data. This would give students a very authentic citizen science learning experience! But with NASA scientists furloughed during the critical project preparation period, 2019 SnowEx may or may not be rebooted.

To help students learn more about the science of snow, WWA partnered with the US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station in 2015 to install an innovative new SnowSchool Weather Station at the National Flagship Site in Boise. Though the RMRS is closed due to the shutdown, the station continues to collect data. Problems with data collection/display may occur however if the weather station instruments needs maintenance during this period.

Similarly, the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s SNOTEL station data remains accessible for now. This is important as many student across the West study historical and current snowpack data from their local SNOTEL site as part of their SnowSchool experience. The SNOTEL program runs on funds from the previous year’s budget.

Shutdown Highlights a Larger Issue

The government shutdown has led to extensive environmental damage, restricted access, a halt in planning, and interruption of important scientific research, as well as lost wages and financial stress for hundreds of thousands people. On the bright side, this shutdown is demonstrating just how important of a role federal employees and the Agencies they work for play in protecting and managing public lands.

Visitors Chainsaw Iconic Joshua Trees in National Park During Shutdown (LiveScience)

For decades Congress has been tightening the screws on our land management agencies. The Forest Service, Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service all struggle with declining budgets, diminishing resources, and increased responsibility and visitor use. Our public land agencies need the funding and resources necessary to overcome infrastructure and planning backlogs and take on new challenges. People are constantly clamoring for new trails, access points, facilities, and designations but all of these take additional resources. Doing more with less only gets us so far. Congress needs to not only end the shutdown, it must also fully fund the land management agencies.

Click here to contact the President and your representatives in Congress today

 

Senators Daines (R-MT) and Gardner (R-CO) champion #bipartisan effort to reauthorize LWCF, America’s favorite conversation program.

Winter Wildlands Alliance policy staff has been in Washington D.C. this past week for our annual Outdoor Alliance policy summit, as well as to check in with Federal land management agencies and meet with members of Congress. Congress is still limping through its lame-duck session, and it’s our last chance to make a case for legislation we’d like to see included in a possible last-ditch, year-end public lands package, and to get some important bills passed into law before having to start over with the new Congress next year.

With Democrats in control of the House and its committees, we expect to see House Republicans putting more pressure on the agencies as a way of achieving their policy priorities outside of the legislative process.

As many bad bills as there are in Congress these days (and there are plenty!), there are some good ones too. One of our top priorities has been to bring back the Land and Water Conservation Fund (#SaveLWCF). Congress let this program expire in September despite the fact that it’s America’s most popular conservation program, with broad bi-partisan support, and a critical source of funding for public land acquisition and recreation infrastructure. We’re still getting mixed beta from Senate offices and members of Congress about whether it’ll get re-authorized — either permanently or temporarily — and at what level, but we’re staying optimistic in these final days of the session.

Which brings me to the primary topic of this policy update – what will the midterm election results and a new Congress in 2019 mean for backcountry skiers who love public lands?

As you will have heard by now, Democrats won enough House races to take back control of the House of Representatives next year, while Republicans maintained control of the Senate. For the past two years, all three branches of government have been controlled by one party, but starting in January we’ll return to a divided government. In the House, the Democrats will control the agenda, forcing both the White House and Republican-controlled Senate to negotiate with them. Given our partisan politics, we expect there will be a lot of vilifying going on too, with each party continuing to focus on blaming the other for the nation’s woes. So, what do we think this means for public lands?

  • Legislation: We expect the scariest legislative threats – such as large-scale public lands transfers and attempts to gut environmental laws – to fade. These attacks on public lands and the public process have been driven by House Republicans and now they don’t have the votes to move these extreme proposals. At the same time, with a hyper-partisan divided Congress, we’re not sure that Congress will get much done in the legislative arena at all.
  • Investigations: With Democrats taking control of the House, we’re expecting a lot of investigations into the conduct and decision-making of Trump Administration officials. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is likely to be on the hot seat as Legislators look into his decisions to reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, among other controversial actions of the past two years.
  • Confirmations:The Republicans have strengthened their majority in the Senate, which will likely make it easier for the President to get the 60 votes needed to confirm his nominees, from the Courts to the Cabinet. Many federal appointments are currently vacant and the rumor mill is churning with word that Secretary Zinke is on his way out. Although Zinke has been a huge disappointment for public lands enthusiasts, we’re not optimistic about who his replacement might be. In fact, there are some frightening nominees waiting in the wings to take positions across the federal public lands agencies. It’s no secret that the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans are highly motivated to change the federal judiciary by confirming as many conservative judges as possible. This will have a delayed, but major, effect on environmental and administrative law, with conservative judges likely giving less deference to land management agencies in how they interpret the laws that govern public lands management.
  • Pressure on the Agencies: It’s not unusual to see members of Congress putting pressure on the Forest Service or other land management agencies. Most recently, we saw members of the Congressional Western Caucus weighing in on winter travel planning in California and asking the Forest Service to re-evaluate any potential restrictions on snowmobile use and even to reconsider the planning process itself. With Democrats in control of the House and its committees, we expect to see House Republicans putting more pressure on the agencies as a way of achieving their policy priorities outside of the legislative process.

We’ll see how these predictions play out in the coming year. For the next week or so, we’ll remain focused on the lame duck session, with fingers crossed that we can get a few things across the finish line in the next couple of weeks!

 

 

 

 

Hilary Eisen, Policy Director

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