Epic Road Trip: Mobilizing for Monuments
Epic Road Trip: Mobilizing for Monuments

Epic Road Trip: Mobilizing for Monuments

KEEN has a rich history engaging in efforts to protect North America’s wild places. And we're not stopping anytime soon.

In 2015, we roadtripped across the country in a bright yellow GMC RV advocating for five new National Monument designations in landscapes across the country. Almost 10 years later, we're back at it – supporting The Conservation Alliance’s Mobilizing for Monuments coalition for permanent protections for public lands across the Western U.S.

KEENer Isa Siamundo hopped into an all-electric Rivian in Denver, Colorado, for 800 miles of public lands love – showcasing the beauty of these natural spaces and advocating for the permanent protection of U.S. National Monuments threatened by destructive resource development. Check out the video below to learn more about Mobilizing for Monuments and see Isa's first-hand account of the experience.

Q&A with Isa, KEEN Social Media Community Specialist

How did you get involved with Mobilizing for Monuments?
Last May, I was lucky enough to attend The Conservation Alliance's first-ever Inaugural Summit, where 100 other brands and members of The Conservation Alliance (TCA) joined together to learn from one another. I was so inspired by TCA's commitment to getting landscapes that are important to people and the planet the protections they deserve. There was an opportunity to join TCA, Flickr, Rivian, and one of their nonprofit partners, Nuestra Tierra Conservation Project, on their road trip to several landscapes that had either been already designated a National Monument or were hoping to become National Monuments, and I thought it would be a great way to educate myself more on conservation efforts and learn more about these places through the people that care about and experience their beauty the most.

What was the experience like?
I joined the Mobilizing for Monuments Road Trip for 3 days total. By the third day, I was telling all the people I had been spending time that it was "the most epic road trip I've ever been on."

I met up with the group in Denver, Colorado (my first time in CO!), where I met the talented and hard-working people who would be helping the road trip and film come to life. We made our way to Gateway, Colorado, to explore portions of the Dolores River Canyon and share the campaign working to expand the protections for the area. TCA had even put together an event in Grand Junction, Colorado, where community members could hear from brands and nonprofits in the outdoor space and learn about ways they could help their local landscape. From Colorado, we made our way through beautiful Moab, Utah, where we stopped to charge our all-electric adventure vehicles from Rivian. After a quick peek at Bears Ears National Monument at sunset, we eventually made our way to Dove Creek, Colorado, where we took in the stunning Dolores River Overlook.

Then we ventured into Arizona and saw the infamous Horseshoe Canyon at sunrise. We visited the newly designated and breathtakingly beautiful Baaj Nwaavjo I'Tah Kukveni - Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument near Marble Canyon, Arizona. It was here that I was able to meet and hear from local indigenous voices – like Myron (or Mylo Fowler), a photographer and storyteller who has had his works featured in National Geographic and Adobe Lightroom, and Dr. Len Necefer, founder and CEO of Natives Outdoors – and hear about the importance of this landscape to them.

What was your favorite memory from the trip?
It's so hard to pick a favorite memory, so I'll pick 2 short ones!

Looking back on this trip, the memory I'll cherish most is meeting people from different parts of the country from different walks of life and different jobs but the same underlying love they all had for the outdoors. I was so inspired by so many of the people I met on this trip and their various ways of integrating their passions into their work, whether it was through videography and storytelling, sustainability work in their industry, policy work, or bringing their community of people together.

I haven't explored much of the states in the Southwest, as I spent much of my life growing up in the Pacific Northwest. The very kind Bridgette and Rebecca of The Conservation Alliance took me under their wings (and into their Rivian) to tell me about the history and landscapes of Colorado and Arizona. We saw a sign for "Fry Bread" on the road, a dish of the Indigenous people of North America, and the girls treated me to my very first helping of it while telling me about its roots. I was so grateful for their kindness!

"Finding community in a nonprofit organization's volunteer group or even online can be so impactful for you and the spaces that you want to protect."

What was the biggest thing that you learned?
The importance of National Monument designations! I've been to several National Monuments, seen them on maps, and even some areas that were formerly National Monuments like Death Valley National Park, but it wasn't until this trip that I understood why the title is so much more than that! National Monument designations are able to provide lasting and permanent protections for landscapes. Whether there is a threat to the area due to mining proposals, or a need for the rare plant and animal species to be preserved and maintained, or a cultural and historical significance to the communities surrounding it, a National Monument designation can help that area get protected and then enjoyed for generations to come. Now, I'll always be excited about National Monuments and learning why they were designated!

What would you say to others interested in protecting the natural spaces they love?
The power of a community is so strong – you just have to look for one to be a part of. Finding community in a nonprofit organization's volunteer group or even online can be so impactful for you and the spaces that you want to protect. Passion is often infectious, and I could see that in so many of the people I met. I know there are some people out there waiting to have another person like you to join their movement or group. Check out events, programs, and groups related to conservation in your area and see where it may take you, whether it's a birding group, a clean-up crew, or a forestry team!

As Pinnacle Members of The Conservation Alliance, we invest $100,000 annually in The Conservation Alliance’s mission to protect North America’s wild places and outdoor spaces. Join us!

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