Talking about climate change is difficult because the issue has become so politicized that many people find it difficult to get out of their chosen battlefield trenches and separate the politics from the science and even the solutions to the problem. Here at Orvis, our stance is pretty simple: We do not believe that protecting what we love is a political act. But to turn big ideas into big actions, you sometimes have to go to Washington, DC, to make your voice heard.
That’s exactly what Steve Hemkens—Orvis VP of Fly Fishing, Wingshooting, and Adventures—did on September 14. Steve joined a delegation, organized by Protect Our Winters, that comprised athletes, anglers, and representatives from businesses that rely on a healthy environment. Members of the group met with Senators and Representatives of both parties, and the highlight was a chance to address the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus—56 Democrats and Republicans working together to address the issues of climate change. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives, Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who came to the hearing directly from assessing damage in their districts from Hurricane Irma.
The subject of the hearing was “The Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Tourism and Recreational Activities,” and Orvis was proud to stand with respected businesses such as Aspen-Snowmass, Fishpond, Burton Snowboards, Jones Snowboards, and the California Ski Area Association. According to Steve, a powerful highlight was Orvis ambassador Hilary Hutcheson’s testimony, in which she discussed the virtual disappearance of the glaciers she remembers from her childhood in northwestern Montana and how this summer’s fires personally impacted her life.
A fly-shop owner and guide, Hilary is also a single mother of two beautiful girls, and she explained how the lost income from cancelled days on the water and low tourist numbers will come back to haunt her during the long off season. “I’ve lost my winter grocery money,” she told the assembled lawmakers, and if we don’t address climate change, this kind of economic impact will be felt by millions of people whose jobs depend on clean air and cold water.
Together, sportsmen and –women represent a powerful constituency that can push hard for change, and the industries that support these outdoor pursuits bring economic clout to the argument, as well. If the science is correct—and we believe that it is—warming temperatures threaten the ecosystems that we love . . . and that we depend on for our business. That’s why we will continue to try to strip away the politics and focus on the issues that we feel are vital to saving trout and game-bird habitat in the mountains and species diversity in the oceans.
If you want to learn much more about climate change, its effects on the environment and fragile species, and what you can do, visit these websites:
Protect Our Winters is a passionate crew of diehards, professional athletes and industry brands mobilizing the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action.
Conservation Hawks is a group of passionate hunters and anglers focused on climate change and devoted to protecting our sporting heritage and passing on a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids.