9th Biennial Grassroots Advocacy Conference
August 24-25, 2021
DAVID PAGE (HE/HIM/HIS)
Advocacy Director, Winter Wildlands Alliance
As WWA Advocacy Director, David has worked closely with environmental partners, grassroots winter recreation groups and forest service staff on numerous land management and winter travel plans in California and beyond, as well as on other issues that impact backcountry skiers and human-powered winter adventurers. He also serves as Policy Director for Outdoor Alliance California (OACA), working with climbers, paddlers, skiers, mountain bikers and others to improve land protections, climate resilience, and equitable access to quality recreation on public lands in California.
“Curbing Our Enthusiasm” Panel
Tuesday, Aug 24 at 10:00am MST
This past year has seen record-breaking visitation numbers and increased user impacts on public lands across the country. In this segment we discuss Recreate Responsibly, Ski Kind, and a variety of other efforts to instill responsible use ethics, exploring the difficult balance between equitable access and responsible (limited?) use.
DANICA CAREY (SHE/HER/HERS)
Marketing Director, Serius Innovation
At family-run Seirus Innovation, Danica is passionate about communicating the benefits of the outdoors. Her lifetime in the outdoor industry has been mirrored by passion for traditional sports, including a collegiate soccer career. She continues to pursue recreational endeavors personally and professionally.
HALEY CARUSO (SHE/HER/HERS)
Brand Engagement and Impact Manager, REI
Haley is the REI Brand Engagement & Impact Manager in California and leads statewide efforts to inspire and enable everybody to enjoy the benefits of spending time outside. Haley has been in the outdoor industry for over 15 years and is the current co-lead for the California Chapter of Recreate Responsibly, which has grown to include over 80 member organizations since June 2020.
COREY LEWELLEN (HE/HIM/HIS)
District Ranger, Bozeman Ranger District, Custer Gallatin National Forest
Corey currently serves as the District Ranger for the Bozeman Ranger District with the Custer Gallatin National Forest. He has worked for the US Forest Service for 19 years, serving as a District Ranger for the past 7. Prior to being a District Ranger, Corey served as a Fisheries Biologist and worked on the White River National Forest and the Willamette National Forest.
DANA WATTS (SHE/HER/HERS)
Executive Director, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Dana brings 25 years and a lifetime of passion to her work in protecting the great outdoors. Growing up in Colorado and raising a family in Boulder, Dana has a true passion for protecting natural lands and the experiences they provide. Dana has transformed Leave No Trace from a concept to a powerful conservation movement with significant influence in the world of outdoor recreation best practices.
“The New Era of Winter Travel Management” Panel
Tuesday, Aug 24 at 12:00pm MST
The Over-Snow Vehicle Rule was finalized in 2015, ushering in a new era of managing winter motorized use on Forest Service lands. Finally, after 6 years, the first forests to adopt this new rule have published winter travel plans. We’ll dive into lessons learned and see how winter travel planning has brought balance to the backcountry on forests in the central and northern Sierra.
CHRIS CARLTON (HE/HIM/HIS)
Forest Supervisor, Plumas National Forest
A native of northern Maine with a background in resource & land use planning, Chris started his federal career with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Wyoming and Washington. He served in the U.S. Air Force and also worked in the private sector, consulting on infrastructure projects. He and his fiancé Rachel enjoy camping, fishing, mountain biking and hiking with their two dogs.
HILARY EISEN (SHE/HER/HERS)
Policy Director, Winter Wildlands Alliance
Hilary is an avid backcountry skier and climber with a passion for wild landscapes. She works on National Forest winter travel management and other policy issues that affect backcountry skiers.
Deputy Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region, United States Forest Service
Jody is a conservation leader with 25 years of national and multi-state experience, both in the government and nonprofit sector. An avid outdoor enthusiast, Jody is passionate about protecting the wildlife habitat and unique ecosystems that make this planet endlessly inspiring.
Executive Director, Friends of Plumas Wilderness
Darrel has always been drawn to wild things and free-spirited people. These attractions and youthful wanderlust led him on a decades-long ramble around the Western U.S. He and his wife Darla crossed paths in Colorado and their lives have remained entwined for over thirty years. In retirement, Darrel aspires to follow the advice of Ed Abbey to be “a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic” dedicated to realizing the vision of E.O. Wilson to conserve Half Earth for species other than our own.
“Improving Capacity on the Ground” Panel
Tuesday, Aug 24 at 2:00pm MST
Snow rangers and trail ambassadors educate winter visitors, track user data, and in some cases enforce winter travel restrictions. They have traditionally been Forest Service employees, but new partnerships between NGOs and the Forest Service are expanding what it means to be a snow ranger – increasing capacity to meet growing demand as winter recreation numbers climb and Forest Service budgets shrink.
CEO, Tahoe Fund
Amy is responsible for working with the Tahoe Fund’s board of directors to operate the organization and raise private and public funds for environmental improvement projects that will restore and enhance the Lake Tahoe region. In her role, she has raised more than $10M from private funders and developed a portfolio of more than 50 environmental improvement projects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University where she was an All-American sailor.
KATE DEMOREST (SHE/HER/HERS)
Snow Ranger and Resource Specialist, USFS (Dillon Ranger District, White River National Forest)
Kate hails from a tiny island in Lake Superior and now finds herself touring the backcountry, fishing, mountain biking, or rafting when not occupied with projects related to owning a 136 year old home in Leadville, CO. During the winter months, Kate serves primarily as the Operations Manager of the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area (VPWRA) and as a snow ranger. During the summer months, Kate shifts her focus to promote clear and effective management strategies to reduce resource damage and educate the public about fire safety at the wildland-urban interface.
JULIE MACH (SHE/HER/HERS)
Conservation Director, Colorado Mountain Club
With over a decade of experience working on public lands projects in Colorado, Julie strives to bridge the gap between conservation groups, recreational users and land managers formulate smart solutions that protect both recreational and natural resources. Her role with CMC includes leading advocacy efforts, spearheading the RIMS mobile app program, supervising stewardship staff and fundraising for conservation efforts. Julie grew up in California and received her Bachelor’s of Science from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania before relocating to Colorado and landing in Salida where she currently lives and works.
“Funding the Forest Service” Panel
Wednesday, Aug 25 at 10:00am MST
The Forest Service manages 154 National Forests across the country, home to some of the best places to backcountry ski, snowshoe, cross country ski, and play in the snow. But as the popularity of outdoor recreation and use of public lands increases, funding for the Forest Service and other land management agencies has not kept up. We’ll discuss the history behind the Forest Service funding crunch, and what might be done to fix it.
BETSY ROBBLEE (SHE/HER/HERS)
Conservation and Advocacy Director, The Mountaineers
Betsy directs The Mountaineers’ conservation and advocacy work, through engaging and educating outdoor enthusiasts to protect public lands. Prior to joining The Mountaineers in 2020, she worked in state-level recreation and conservation advocacy, spent six years as a policy advisor in the U.S. Congress, and also worked as a chef and yoga teacher. Betsy is based in Seattle, Washington, where she enjoys trail running, skiing, mountaineering, and cycling.
MIKE SPLAIN (HE/HIM/HIS)
Conservation Funding Project Manager, Resources Legacy Fund
A native of Maryland, Mike Splain relocated to the west coast in 1991 and has since pursued wild lands conservation as a volunteer and staff member at Forests Forever, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, and National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance. At Resources Legacy Fund. He now works with partners and decision-makers to directly address conservation funding shortfalls at agencies like the BLM and Forest Service. Mike holds a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and spends his free time exploring the conifers and wild rivers of the Klamath Mountains bioregion.
ERIN ULOTH (SHE/HER/HERS)
Budget and Program Development Director for the Pacific Southwest Region, United States Forest Service
In her current job, Erin ensures that the money needed to protect and conserve our national forests goes where it’s needed, and that the Forest Service is transparent and diligent in managing those funds. Previously, she spent 8 years as a District Ranger on the Mt. Baker Ranger District in Northwest Washington and worked on the Tongass National Forest as the Partnerships and Public Affairs staff officer. At home, she is a happy mother of two boys, who, along with her husband Reid, keep her busy both inside the house and out, be it biking, camping, skiing, going to the beach, or singing karaoke.
“Grow or Die? Ski Area Expansion” Panel
Wednesday, Aug 25 at 12:00pm MST
Ski areas across the country are looking to expand and in many cases this means developing places that are currently used by backcountry skiers and/or wildlife. Ski area expansions can impact nearby communities, too, for better or worse. Join us to discuss ski area expansions, learn more about how the Forest Service makes decisions about these projects, and help us brainstorm how the decision-making process around ski area management could be improved.
CARL FISHER (HE/HIM/HIS)
Executive Director, Save Our Canyons
Carl enjoys spending time with friends and family, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, fishing and backcountry snowboarding. After graduating from the University of Utah with degrees in Geography and Environmental Studies he joined Save Our Canyons’ staff in 2006. He is married, has two daughters, one dog and is passionate about protecting public lands, wildlife habitat, and our environment and likes to have fun!
DON DRESSER (HE/HIM/HIS)
Mountain Resort Program Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region, United States Forest Service
Working virtually from Edwards, Colorado, Don is responsible for the oversight and administration of the largest regional ski area program in the country including 27 ski areas operating throughout Colorado and Wyoming on National Forest System lands under Special Use Permit. He provides policy direction, planning, technical advice and compliance reviews for the 9 National Forests within the Rocky Mountain Region administering ski area permits. When not downhill skiing, Don can be found mountain biking, rafting and camping throughout Colorado or sailing in the Caribbean.
SHAWN HILL, AICP
Executive Director, Valley Advocates for Responsible Development
Shawn is the Executive Director of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD), a 501(c)(3) organization that advocates for responsible land use planning in Teton Valley, Idaho/Wyoming. Prior to VARD, he served as a staff planner for Summit County, Utah and the Town of Jackson, Wyoming as well as a private consultant for various planning and housing efforts in Western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho. Shawn holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Wyoming and a B.A. in Urban Planning from the University of Utah.
GERALDINE LINK (SHE/HER/HERS)
Director of Public Policy, National Ski Areas Association
Geraldine serves as the ski industry’s liaison with the U.S. Forest Service and spearheads the Association’s sustainability and climate change initiatives. She serves on the Advisory Board for Business Climate Leaders and previously served on the Colorado Hazardous Waste Commission by appointment of the Governor, and the Roadless Area Conservation National Advisory Committee by appointment of the Secretary of Agriculture. Prior to NSAA, Geraldine practiced environment and natural resources law at Arnold & Porter.
“Responsible Influence” Panel
Wednesday, Aug 25 at 2:00pm MST
With more and more people catching the outdoor recreation bug by way of their social media feeds, what is the role of the influencer (and their sponsors) in shaping behavior and protecting special places?
DANI REYES-ACOSTA (SHE/HER/ELLA)
Athlete / Advisor / Advocate
Dani Reyes-Acosta is a Latina-AAPI athlete, strategic advisor, storyteller and more rewriting the narrative of who plays outside and how we build community with others on this planet.
CONNOR RYAN (HE/HIM/HIS)
A proud Lakota, Connor was born and raised in Colorado. He learned to love skiing powder at a young age, but lost touch with the sport in his teens as he struggled to overcome the financial barriers to skiing. It wasn’t until his early 20s that he returned to the mountains, and skiing consumed his identity. Connor has devoted his life and platform to rediscovering how traditional Indigenous culture and ecological knowledge can shape our relationship to the lands we relate to through skiing, life, and adventure.
VASU SOJITRA (HE/HIM/HIS)
Ambassador and Athlete
With the motto of “ninjasticking through the woods to bring intersectionality to the outdoors,” Vasu challenges the biases that go with being a disabled person of color through his intersectional work which include being the first adaptive athlete for The North Face, a founding member for The Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E Initiative, the co-founder of Inclusive Outdoors Project, and a Disability Access strategist for The Avarna Group, In Solidarity Project and independently.
AILSA WALSH (SHE/HER/HERS)
Development and Communications Manager, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
Ailsa helps to coordinate events and fundraisers with corporate partners, manages the Center’s social media channels and handles media outreach. Ailsa graduated from King’s College London with a degree in English Literature.