Who We Are
ABOUT THE ALLIANCE
Across the state, Alaskans are growing excited about our outdoor recreation economy.
Alaskans are outdoor people. We love going outside. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years. Whether gathering our food, enjoying nature on a local park or trail or embarking on an epic wild adventure, Alaskans have always valued everything the outdoors brings. But now Alaskans are realizing the outdoors means even more. An unsung economic powerhouse, the outdoor recreation sector creates businesses, jobs and economic opportunity for our rural economies. Research is revealing the vital role outdoor recreation plays in improving mental and physical well-being, especially for our kids, seniors, veterans and our most vulnerable populations.
The Alaska Outdoor Alliance is made up of individuals, businesses and community leaders who recognize that we have an unparalleled opportunity for a booming and beneficial outdoor economy that works for Alaskans.
The time has come for an outdoor sector at the scale of Alaska itself. The Alaska Outdoor Alliance is working to build the best outdoor economy in the world.
How do we do that? The Alaska Outdoor Alliance does three things:
PROMOTES Growing our Outdoor Recreation Assets across Alaska
Step one? Invest public funds in our outdoor recreation infrastructure. These assets come in many forms and include things like land and water trail systems, campgrounds, visitor centers, public use cabins and shelters, boat docks & launches, wayfinding and interpretive signage, developed roadside waysides, trailheads and viewpoints with parking and restrooms.
Alaska already has the seventh largest outdoor recreation economy among the 50 United States; we think it should be first. We call on our federal, state and local leaders to make a massive investment in funding our outdoor recreation assets, returning dividends to Alaskans for generations to come.
ADVANCES Policies and Programs that Expand Opportunity in Outdoor Recreation
Outdoor recreation is a multi-dimensional economic sector. It is connected to many other sectors, generating jobs and benefits in manufacturing, finance, retail, transportation, food service, tourism, travel, healthcare and more. To thrive, the outdoor sector also relies on land management, permitting and policy decisions from a wide range of local, state and federal agencies. The Alliance advocates for offices of outdoor recreation at the state and municipal levels to coordinate across sectors and agencies and advance policies and programs that expand opportunities for Alaskans to get outside and to develop outdoor recreation related businesses. We advocate for federal and state land managers to recognize and increase their focus and resources on outdoor recreation as a vital economic activity on public lands.
ADVOCATES for Access and Stewardship of Public Lands
Public land and waters are the backbone of the outdoor recreation economy. Alaska’s stunning landscapes and thriving wildlife are unparalleled. Parks, refuges, forests, monuments, reserves, recreational areas and other public lands provide extraordinary benefits to Alaskans. They feed our families in body and spirit, create globally unique outdoor recreation opportunities and are vital to Alaska’s global brand reputation in the visitor industry. Public lands and waters and access to wild lands are the Alaska outdoor sector’s most basic foundation, and without them the sector cannot survive. The Alliance advocates for policy and land management decisions that support access and stewardship—ensuring Alaskans and visitors always have the opportunity to get outside where jobs, health and communities grow.
The Alaska Outdoor Alliance had its roots in the first Confluence Summit on the Outdoors, held in Anchorage in 2016. That summit began as a question: was there enough energy and interest in coalescing around the idea that the state’s outdoor recreation economy was a sleeping giant worth awakening? The overwhelmingly resounding answer was, “Yes!”
Since then leaders in outdoor recreation have summited yearly, and in 2019, hundreds of Alaskans participated in listening sessions on outdoor recreation called Confluence Rendezvous in towns and cities across the state. In the fall of 2019, participants in the fourth annual summit decided to create a formal coalition and the Alaska Outdoor Alliance was born.
To ensure not just the biggest outdoor economy but the best, we subscribe to the Common Principles of the Confluence Accords to ensure our work is equitable and sustainable.
Alaskan communities are particularly unique in the world and Alaskans value their diverse and independent ways of living. Planning and development of assets for outdoor recreation sector must take into account the desires of local communities and respect Alaska Native lands and subsistence traditions. Outdoor recreation and outdoor-based tourism should deliver positive net benefits to all participants—commercial and noncommercial, residents and visitors alike.
All outdoor recreation in Alaska occurs on the homelands of Alaska Native People. Alaska Native Peoples have a unique and vital connection to the land. As we grow our outdoor recreation sector, we must do so in ways that recognize, respect and celebrate this deep connection and ensure the benefits of the sector accrue equitably to First Alaskans.
Staff and Advisory Council
Lee Hart Executive Director
Advisors are dedicated professionals and community leaders who help to inform and shape the priorities and focus of the alliance. Their wide range of perspectives helps our coalition act on behalf of many Alaskans and still speak as one, unified voice.
Chris Beck Alaska Trails
Natalie Dawson Audubon Alaska
Heather Kelly Heather's Choice
James King US Forest Service Region 10
Dan Kirkwood Pack Creek Tours/Co-Chair Visitor Products Working Group, Juneau Economic Development Council
Diana Rhoades Anchorage Park Foundation
Wendy Sailors Alaska State Parks
Michele Stevens Petersville Community Non-Profit Corporation
Reed Stoops Reed Stoops & Associates
Jon Underwood Happy Trails
The Alaska Outdoor Alliance is a coalition fiscally sponsored through an Alaska Venture Fund partnership. Learn more about the Alaska Venture Fund.