Exciting things are happening in the Evergreen State! Surfrider Foundation is thrilled to announce our participation in the newest state network: Outdoor Alliance Washington (OA Washington). OA Washington is a coalition of human-powered outdoor recreation organizations representing more than 75,000 members who recreate on public lands and waters in Washington State. Our goal is to empower and engage recreation enthusiasts to protect Washington’s outdoor spaces and tackle the climate crisis.
At Outdoor Alliance, we know that when climbers, paddlers, hikers, mountain bikers, and backcountry skiers speak with one voice, policymakers listen. Our collective voice increases our community’s leverage with federal and state decision makers on public lands and recreation.
Over the last three years, we’ve grown our formal Outdoor Alliance California network, and it’s been hugely successful in protecting public lands and waters and advancing outdoor recreation in the state. Building on our success in California, OA Washington connects advocates across the Evergreen State to bring our voices to bear on issues that matter to the outdoor community, from funding public lands to advancing meaningful climate solutions.
While outdoor recreation organizations in Washington have worked together for years, OA Washington is a formalized, strategic approach to outdoor advocacy designed to achieve high-impact outcomes for climate and conservation. We serve as a platform for Washington outdoor recreation leaders to coordinate their efforts and drive forward a shared conservation agenda to protect public lands and the outdoor experience. OA Washington connects local knowledge and priorities with Outdoor Alliance’s national perspectives and expertise.
Led by The Mountaineers, OA Washington brings together policy experts from the regional chapters of OA member organizations: Access Fund, American Whitewater, and Surfrider Foundation, as well as the Washington State-based organizations Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and Washington Trails Association. Together, our groups maintain thousands of miles of trails, contribute millions of dollars in recreation user fees, and teach outdoor skills to thousands of Washingtonians.
Through more strategic coordination, OA Washington will engage in deep relationship-building with state and federal elected officials, such as our recent field tour with Representative Derek Kilmer. We’ll also provide individual recreationists with the tools to advocate for public lands, climate resilience, and equitable outdoor access. Expect to see more opportunities to speak up for Washington’s outdoors, including town hall meetings, outreach events, action alerts, and recreation roundtable discussions.
We’re at a critical juncture to protect public lands and waters, as the climate crisis gives new urgency to our work. OA Washington will be at the ground floor of upcoming conservation opportunities such as the 30 by 30 initiative at the federal level and forest planning in Washington State. Washington is particularly important for these efforts because our spectacular forests, rivers, and oceans are vitally important to buffering against the worst effects of climate change, both in the Evergreen State and nationally. Your voice will be critical to that effort – stay tuned on updates from OA Washington and how you can get involved.
Why Washington State Matters
Washington’s public lands and waters are unparalleled in their beauty and ruggedness: from the crashing waves of the Pacific Coast to the jagged North Cascade peaks that have inspired generations of climbers and mountaineers, from close-to-home green spaces like Capitol State Forest and the Snoqualmie Recreation Corridor to hundreds of miles of single track for mountain bikers to explore all across the state. Our goal is to protect these places for current and future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.
In addition to Washington’s mind-boggling natural beauty, we have a huge number of outdoor enthusiasts willing to take action to protect the places they love. While there are outdoor advocates in every congressional district across the country, some of the congressional districts with the highest number of outdoor advocates are located in Washington. We’re also lucky to have state and federal lawmakers who care deeply about the outdoors and are well positioned to make a difference.
Here’s a snapshot of Washington’s public lands and why they matter:
- Washington State has about 19.8 million acres of public land, including 124 state parks, 9 national forests and 3 national parks.
- Washington boasts 31 Wilderness areas, covering approximately 4.3 million acres of land for hiking, mountaineering, and paddling. Only three states have more acres of Wilderness than Washington.
- Over 90% of Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation!
- Outdoor recreation in Washington supports $26.5 billion in annual spending, which supports 264,000 jobs throughout Washington.
- Washington has 3,026 miles of coastline, enjoyed by surfers, beach goers, and paddlers.
- Public lands and waters support an average of $240 billion annually in ecosystem services, or benefits people derive from nature like clean air and water, disaster risk reduction, and fertile soils for agriculture.