outdoor advocacy update 004: sen. lee kills public lands package–because, bears ears.

Let’s just dive right in:

Well, the public lands package is dead. It’s that big set of bills I’ve been hyped on, that includes LWCF permanent reauthorization, Recreation Not Red Tape, the Emery County Bill that’s close to home for me, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, and many other important and powerful outdoor-related bills.

Yesterday was a rollercoaster in Congress. At the beginning of the day, it looked like there way no way it would pass–and then, suddenly, members started objecting. They demanded including the public lands package in the CR. Sen. Cory Gardner got fired up, along with a bipartisan cohort of Senators Cantwell, Daines and Murkowski who all went to bat for the outdoor community, debating for nearly an hour (a big deal for public lands to get that much floor time in a big Congressional moment like this).

And then, Senator Lee happened. He refused to let the public lands package be included–because, Bears Ears. Yes, that’s right. He was hung up on making sure that no new national monuments will ever be added to the state of Utah, and that’s what killed this opportunity. (Yes, I am ashamed to be his constituent here in Salt Lake City. Yes, he will be getting an earful of verbal coal from me for his Christmas gift.)

So, what next? The good news is, everyone–besides Lee–is fired up on pushing this package across the finish line by whatever means necessary. Chairman Murkowski is on record saying that it’s going to pass early in the new year, and it’s looking like that could happen as early as January or February. So, not all is lost.

Want to watch it all go down on C-SPAN (oh, you really are an outdoor policy geek)? Here you go:

What I’m Reading:

  • This article about a federal appeals court in Virginia that “has thrown out a power company’s permit to build a natural gas pipeline across two national forests and the Appalachian Trail – and slammed the U.S. Forest Service for granting the approvals in the first place.” And they quoted the Lorax about it.
  • This wild idea from Politico about running a unity ticket in the 2020 Presidential election. Biden/Romney 2020? Sounded like an interesting idea until I read someone tweet about a Biden/Beto ticket. *drools*
  • REI published a great piece explaining why the Farm Bill (see last week’s outdoor advocacy update) is important to everyone from outdoorists and ranchers to low-income families.

In conclusion for 2018:

This has been a hard, in-between, burnt out transition year for me. As so many other’s also did, I struggled at times to keep the stoke alive. There were major highlights, like the success of the #VoteTheOutdoors campaign and the Outdoor Advocate Network–but overall, I’d call this year a big, fat meh.

The last week of Congressional happenings, planning for 2019 campaigns, signing new contracts with old and new advocacy clients, and reviving my business plan has the spark reignited. I am ready to kick ass in 2019, y’all–and I hope you are too. 

Got any advocacy stories I oughta know about? Send ’em my way for the next edition of this outdoor advocacy update! Header image by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash!

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outdoor advocacy update 003: bye, bye zinke.

Advocacy updates + news

It’s one of those weeks, y’all. Let’s start with the big bang: Secretary Ryan Zinke is leaving the Department of Interior. Good riddance. This quote from OIA’s Executive Director Amy Roberts sums it up:

“The outdoor recreation community will remember Secretary Zinke for his flawed decision to dramatically reduce two national monuments in Utah despite their positive economic benefits to the state and against the advice of 4 million Americans.” (See Amy’s tweet)

Here’s the catch: Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, a lawyer and longtime lobbyist for the oil + gas industry, is expected to replace Zinke–and he’s very, very bad. So, my takeaway from this breaking news and the jolt of advocacy energy it gave me is: bottle up that energy, renew your stoke to fight for good, and get ready to roll up your sleeves. I think we’ve all been feeling that advocacy burn-out lately, and this is the moment we hit the restart button ’cause we’re going to need to dive back into battle.

In better news, the Farm Bill passed through Congress this week. Don’t know what that is? Here are six reasons why outdoorists should be stoked about the Farm Bill. It financially supports and prioritizes outdoor recreation, designates 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee as Wilderness (the highest level of protection for public lands), addresses wildfire issues, and more.

The Farm Bill is good, but what would be even better is if we can get a package of public lands bills passed ASAP. It all needs to be funded by December 21st to avoid a government shut down, and includes legislation on LWCF, Recreation Not Red Tape, the Emery County Bill and other key issues. Learn more about it here from Outdoor Alliance.

What I’m Reading:

Are you feeling that outdoor advocacy energy right now? I am. If you want to continue to get informed, get resources, and get educated on how you can continue to take action, join the OIA Outdoor Advocate Network. If you don’t already know about it, it’s a project I started a few years ago to create a space where outdoor advocates can access toolkits, share resources, and get empowered to take action in a meaningful, united way. Join it, everyone is welcome!

Got some outdoor news or policy resources I should share in the next mini fresh outdoor advocacy update? Let me know! I want to support your work and amplify the goodness our community has goin’ on. (Header image via the Interior flickr.)

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outdoor advocacy update 001: welcome back, let’s get to work.

Hello, friends. In this moment, I am releasing a whale of an exhale. *sigh* I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago, and beyond containing the contents of my life and adventures over the last decade, The Morning Fresh has been the catalyst to my entire career, to finding my purpose in life.

For the last few years, my site sat captive to a crappy host situation that left me unable to make any updates or changes to the site–at one point, gaudy web ads where plastered all over the blog without my consent. Without control over my own content, I spent my creative energy elsewhere and neglected my own platform. But a tiny miracle happened recently: I took back control.

I’ve been asking myself questions. What is my purpose? Why did the Universe decide to create me, right now? What am I here to do? Who am I here to serve?

And then one day, it clicked. In a burst of clarity, it all made plain sense. I am here to activate advocates. I am here to inspire you–through resources and storytelling–to take action to protect public land, live a more sustainable life, and do good unto your fellow humans + earth. 

So, I pirated my own blog back, redesigned it to better serve you, and here we are. It’s time to get back to work. First, a little update from my world–a new series I’m calling ‘mini fresh.’ A bi-weekly newsletter delivered in blog form. What I’ve been up to, what you should be reading, products + projects I’m drooling over, things you ought to know about.

In this week’s mini fresh, episode 001:

  • A mini update on life: As summer fades away and cold weather sinks in, I’m nestling into work-work-work mode before another season of travel kicks off. My nose has been buried in notebooks, my laptop, and podcasts. As I write this, we’re sitting on the couch in front of the first ‘fire’ of the season. By fire, I mean our electric fireplace with ceramic logs and a digital flame–thank you solar-powered house. The Delica is finally out of the shop, and Brody built us a platform bed + installed solar panels. I am mourning the death of shorts season, but psyched to spent autumn on the road.
  • What I’m reading (digital): The Outdoor Industry Association Voters Guide for the 2018 midterm elections. I’ve been working on the #VoteTheOutdoors (check it out on Twitter and Instagram) campaign for months and it’s all coming to a climax as election day–eeek. Toolkit coming to help you get involved later this week!
  • What I’m reading (paper): I joined a book club, and our first read is When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams. I posted a photo of the book on my Insta-story, and over 50 women messaged me to say it was their favorite book, or it changed their life, or it’s the reason they became a park ranger. As you can imagine, I am stoked.
  • Where I’m heading next: To the desert! My 30th birthday is on October 16th, so Brody, Spaghetti and I are loading up the Delica

Gosh, it feels good to be back. If you’ve been reading The Morning Fresh since the days of Florida and big yellow van life: thank you for sticking with me throughout this wild ride. If this is the first time you’ve ever visited my blog: welcome and thank you for being part of this community. Let’s do this, together.

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Guide to Hemp CBD + Products

Hemp CBD has changed my life. Period. I have been an advocate for CBD for years, but after moving to Utah thought my days of plant-based medicine were over. Then, I found hemp CBD products casually sitting at the register of my local bodega, Jade Market. Could it be? CBD sold openly in politically prude Utah? A can of worms opened; I learned I could even order hemp CBD products online, I read up about the 2014 Farm Bill that legalized some industrial hemp, I traveled to West Virginia and purchased it there, I flew with it cross-country without any TSA problems–I was floored. Even professional climber Nina Williams uses CBD.

I am a believer in the power of plant-based medicine.

And I want to educate + empower you when it comes to CBD too.

Here’s the catch with this guide: it’s largely anecdotal, and you’ll be sick of the phrase “gray area” by the end of it–but that’s the reality of this burgeoning industry right now. And I say industry because, well, the hemp in question is good for more than just CBD oil. Hemp is a powerhouse plant that has potential to change the way we produce paper, clothing, biodegradable ‘plastics’, food, fuel, and more. Even Mitch McConnell is pro-hemp (and his 2018 legislation could help eliminate all of this ‘gray area’). But I digress…

I will strictly be discussing hemp-derived CBD in this guide. If you live in a state where marijuana is legal, I recommend heading to a local dispensary to learn more about marijuana-based CBD­. I find it to be more powerful and effective than hemp CBD, but, I live in Utah, so, here we are.

What is hemp CBD? And what is the difference between hemp and marijuana?

Let’s get this out of the way: hemp-derived CBD is non-psychoactive and it will not get you ‘high’. Using CBD is not ‘doing drugs.’

First, what they share: both hemp and marijuana are plant species within the Cannabis family. Yes, both are cannabis plants. But hemp is not psychoactive and has a low THC (<0.3%) chemical makeup, while marijuana is psychoactive and has high THC content (typically 5-35%). This website helps lay out the differences in an easily digestible way.

Marijuana is primarily used for medicinal purposes, while hemp is used in everything from apparel textiles to creating biodegradable plastics. The plants look different, and have very different cultivation needs–marijuana is delicate and precise whereas hemp is typically grown in a more industrial setting. Hemp is one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops, it just unfortunately got lumped in as illegal with marijuana as part of the Controlled Substance Act in 1970. Thankfully, the Farm Act of 2014 is turning that around. You can read more about the different between hemp and marijuana–and why Mitch McConnell is pro-hemp–via Business Insider here.

A Quick Guide to Using Hemp CBD Oil

First, do your research–and I don’t mean just reading this post. What are you looking to address through using hemp CBD? Mental health, physical pain, general wellbeing, medical uses for your pets? Keep digging until you feel confident. As long as it is, this guide only skims the surface. Keep in mind, per the FDA, no CBD brand can currently make health claims about their products–but the World Health Organization has stated that CBD has no known adverse affects. Personally, I use it to ease my intense anxiety, alleviate pain in my knee from running, stop migraines, and get better sleep.

Your needs will help you determine what kind of product(s) to try. There are tinctures, oils, edibles, topicals, isolates crystals, salves, capsules, and more. In 2015, the hemp CBD industry reported $65 million in sales in 2015, and it’s estimated to hit 2.1 billion by 2020 (source)–so there are a lot of different products on the market to try.

Don’t assume all hemp CBD products are created equally. “Plant-based medicine” does not mean it’s always going to be organic, naturally sourced, trust-worthy, or free from junky chemicals. Check for brands that do third party testing, source from US-grown hemp farmers, use organic ingredients, and openly advertise being pesticide and herbicide free. Check out the latter half of the 2Rise Naturals FAQ for an example of the kind of answers you want when looking into sourcing. In Utah specifically, we recently had a string of folks getting very ill after buying knock-off CBD oil. Make sure you shop smart.

Let’s talk about dosing. How much should you take and how quickly will you feel the effects (if any) of hemp CBD? Unfortunately, we’re at another gray area. While most people, myself included, report instant or very quick results, it can take up to 2 weeks of regular usage for some users to begin to feel the effects of hemp CBD. Dosage is also very personal–I recommend experimenting and seeing what works for you. My daily routine is one dropper of my Alpen Organics 1000mg tincture, and an occasional 15mg Veggimins edible or half-dose of a tincture midday if my anxiety is really bad.

I also want to address the privilege and accessibility issues with hemp CBD. Put simply: it’s expensive. Cost is a major barrier to access with CBD, and while I don’t have any quick answers, I wanted to acknowledge that here while spewing my undying love for it. I hope it will become more affordable as the industry matures.

Products I’ve Tested: 

This is the first round of hemp CBD product testing–stay tuned for more. I wanted to sample a variety of products and brands, some of which I bought personally and some of which was provided for testing. And yes, per popular request there are a few discount codes in here (and a few affiliate links). I also rated each product on a scale of 1-to-10.

  • Alpen Organics MIND Tincture–1000 mg: If I could only recommend one hemp CBD product to folks looking to try it, the Alpen Organics MIND Tincture would be it. This is my daily go-to product, and it is the only ‘natural’ remedy I have found for my intense, ruins-your-entire-day migraines. I was hesitant to try this for my migraines, because I get super queasy, but took one dropper and instantly felt relief. It doesn’t cure me everytime, but it’s powerful stuff. If you’re new to hemp CBD oil and want to start with a lower strength, check out the Alpen Organics MIND tincture in 600mg and 300mg If you want to try Alpen Organics, use the code KATIEBOUE for 30% off your purchase! (12/10)
  • Charlotte’s Web Everyday Plus Olive Oil – 30mL: You’ve heard of the Charlotte’s Web brand before. Remember this video? Charlotte Figi is that young girl whose extreme grand mal seizures were treated by the Stanley Brothers’ proprietary hemp products–which sent then the world into a frenzy over medical marijuana. This also happens to be the first hemp CBD product I tried, thanks to the recommendation of my acupuncturist. It’s an excellent dropper-style oil and worked great to help alleviate my general anxiety. (10/10)
  • Queen City Hemp Oral Tincture – 250 mg: This was my least favorite hemp CBD oil product, but it still got the job done. I purchased this in West Virginia while on a solo road trip because I was having pretty bad work-related anxiety, and it calmed me down. However, I didn’t love the minty-ish taste and it upset my stomach ever so slightly. (5/10)
  • Physicians Preferred Night Time CBD – 250mg: I discovered this product through a family member in Miami, who swears by it for helping with sleep. I purchased it for myself at the local Pinecrest Farmers Market and love it, though I wish I could try the ‘extreme sleepiness’ 1000mg dosage to compare (it’s a doozy at $119!). I take this about 20 minutes before bed, sleep like a rock, and tend to wake up a touch earlier than usual feeling rested. (10/10)
  • 2Rise Naturals Extra-Strength Capsules – 900mg: While I personally prefer tinctures and oils, these capsules are a great product for folks who want to make hemp CBD part of your everyday routine. Just pop one and go. They’re easy to swallow and this is a great product if you’re someone who has found that the ‘instant relief’ method of CBD doesn’t work for you. 2Rise recommends allowing 7-14 days for the cannabinoids to activate in your body. I love all the information provided by 2Rise on their product pages too. If you want to try 2Rise Naturals, who has excellent sourcing and a variety of products, use code KATIEBOUE at checkout for 30% off! (8/10)
  • Alpen Organics BODY Topical–600 mg: I was turned onto the idea of topicals by a family member who uses it for chronic knee pain. I too suffer from knee ailments due to trail running, so I used this product testing as an excuse to drag my lazy toosh out onto the trails to generate some pain. I rubbed it into my aching knees before bed, and felt immediate relief. Keep in mind, this is more like taking an ibuprofen than going to a physical therapist. Don’t expect a magical cure to your pain, just relief. I also rub this onto my temples when I have a migraine and it feels incredible. (9/10) Again, use code KATIEBOUE at checkout for a 30% discount.
  • Veggimins Dark Chocolate Cacao Bites – 300 mg: Oh, these little hearts of dark chocolate CBD bliss. These cacao bites are my favorite hemp CBD edible I have tried thus far. They’re delicious and effective for me. I nosh on one of these in mid-day if I need a little extra boost of CBD healing. Could be a great every-day product for someone preferring edibles over oils. (10/10)
  • Veggimins Dark Chocolate Bar with Hemp CBD–15 mg: Similar to the cacao bites, these chocolate bars are delicious, and this snack-sized treat is a great addition to a girls night, picnic, treat-yo-self evening, or if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to try CBD edibles for the first time. This product was the first time I was able to get an anti-CBD (due to stigma and ignorance) loved one to try it out, so it’s great for newbies! (8/10)

Got additional products I must try for the next round? Leave a comment letting me know your favorites!

Additional Frequently Asked Questions:

The most common question of all (besides ‘Will it get me high?’): Which brand do you recommend for dogs? I wish I had a better answer for this, but I was dog-less while doing my initial testing. Anecdotally, I know of multiple people who use Alpen Organics’ PETS Tincture for dogs with anxiety and older dogs with chronic pain–and love it. Spaghetti suffers from some major separation anxiety issues, and I will be testing it out on her ASAP. Stay tuned for updates. Here is an in-depth resource about pups + CBD if you want to do more digging on using hemp CBD oil for your dog.

Where do you buy it? You can purchase it online, all of the products I mentioned have links! I also purchase mine in Salt Lake City at Jade Market–they carry the Veggimins brand and edibles, tinctures, and more. For pets, if you head to the Healthy Pets on 11th and 17th, you can a small selection of top quality products for your furballs.

Will hemp CBD show up in a drug test? Like most answers about hemp CBD, there’s an answer, but it’s not definitive. Basically, it’s very highly unlikely. If you consume a high dosage of 1000-2000 mg per day of hemp CBD oil, there is an unlikely 11-23% percent chance your drug test may result in a false positive. You can read more about the possibility of CBD hemp oil and drug tests here.

I tried it and it didn’t help me with ____. I can’t tell if it’s working. Hemp CBD is not a miracle cure for everything for everyone. If you are treating muscle pain or soreness, tinctures may not help as much as a direct topical. Want to ditch medication for this natural alternative? Fantastic–but while many people have success doing that, it’s not for everyone. I mentioned using it for migraines, and while 9/10 it provides nearly instant relief, once it didn’t do much at all besides ease my belly so I still took Excedrin. Experiment with dosage and products. Again, if you live in a state where marijuana is legal, I recommend trying marijuana-derived CBD products–they’re stronger and more effective.

Can you take it on a plane? Surprise, surprise, I don’t have a definitive answer here, but I have traveled with it over a dozen times through international and regional airports and have never had a problem with it going through TSA.

Can I get it in ______? The blanket answer given by most brands is that they’ll ship to all 50 states. However, there are four states where CBD is still explicitly illegal: Idaho (which has medical marijuana on the ballot in November!), South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Internationally, I can’t give you answers–do some Googling to see where your country stands.

Does it help with menstrual cramps? I experience very mild if any cramping due to my IUD (thank you birth control!) but it does help ease my pain when I do have it. I’d recommend a combo tincture + topical.

What are the side effects of too much? Anecdotally, not much. I took the Queen City Hemp oil in mega quantity once because I was having an anxiety attack alone in the middle of West Virginia, and it just gave me a belly ache and put me right to sleep. As mentioned previously, the World Health Organization states no known adverse effects of CBD.

I know there are more questions, and I want to answer as many as I can. This guide is quite comprehensive (read: long AF) and yet barely scratches the surface when it comes to CBD education. I intend to write a part 2 of this guide, so please leave your additional questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to see covered, and anything else CBD related in the comments. And if you want more education on CBD (and if you’re curious about cannabis), follow my sister Sarah Boué, who is an incredibly knowledgeable cannabis educator in Colorado.

Disclaimer (it’s a doozy): I am not a doctor, nor a medical professional, nor a CBD expert. The information you received from this blog post is anecdotal and for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek advice from your physician or other qualified health care provider. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. As a consumer, it is your responsibility to know your local, state and federal laws before making any purchases.

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Outdoorist Tips for (Easy) Eco-Living

As an outdoor advocate, my dedication to caring for the land isn’t exclusive to my work to protect public lands–it’s embedded into the core of my daily lifestyle. To care about the outdoors means to care about the planet, climate change, plastic waste, energy, supply chain (where your products come from), air + water quality, the works. If you truly want to do good for the outdoor places you love, your life should reflect that. If you want to be an environmental activist, make every day a personal protest.

Shifting towards a more eco-minded lifestyle doesn’t have to be dramatic. You can adapt this mindset to whatever your budget, energy, and give-a-shit levels are. You don’t need to live in a house with solar panels and drive an electric car to start doing good for your planet.

One important note: While there are small, relatively inexpensive (and free) ways to be more eco-friendly, it should be acknowledged that ‘living green’ is often a privileged lifestyle. Buying organic food, driving an electric car, investing in earth-friendly products is often more expensive than choosing a more earth-impacting lifestyle. Something worth acknowledging, and for those of us privileged enough to choose to go eco–let’s think about how we can support others who aren’t.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve incorporated eco-living into my everyday:

Change your mindset.

This whole respect yo mama, be a better human existing on this planet, live more sustainably thing is truly a lifestyle shift. And while it involves commitment, it also becomes a snowball–the more you roll with it, the easier and bigger the movement becomes to adopt. And the more you open your eyes to how wasteful and disrespectful to Pachamama humans are, the more compelled you’ll feel to honor and respect her.

Think smaller. Think local. Think human-powered.

Support your local community and economy.

Source as much produce + products from your local farmers market as possible (there are fewer joys greater than having an egg guy, kombucha fam, and Cuban coffee lady). Patronize restaurants that source their ingredients from local farms. The Farmers Market Coalition has a sweet map of markets across the US–I love using this tool to find new markets when I’m on the road.

Think about the carbon footprint of the products and goods you buy. How far did your ordered-online coffee table have to travel (and how much packing supples did it use) to get to your living room? Could you have supported a local woodworker to get a locally made coffee table instead? For the price of 2 gonna-fall-apart-in-a-season H&M sundresses, wouldn’t you rather have purchased a handmade dress that’ll last for 50 years from a local artist? Focusing on locally made goods is 10/10 one of the more satisfying and community-stoke-building ways to live more eco-friendly.

Ditch single-use plastic.

  • Buy a set of reusable bamboo utensils from To-Go Ware, and take ’em everywhere with you. Make it a habit to keep these in your everyday pack. On the trail, in airports, while you’re eating out on the go, give yourself no excuse for using plastic utensils.
  • In the US alone, we use–and promptly throw out–500 million straws every single day. Repeat after me: “No straw, please.” Start saying this, every time you order at a restaurant, go through a drive-thru, get delivery. It takes a while to get used to saying, and sometimes you’ll get funny looks, but eventually it becomes second nature. If you simply can’t do without a straw, buy a reusable one! I love straws, so I have like 5 reusable ones–though I am currently most stoked on the FinalStraw, which was created by a lovely friend.
    If you need visceral proof of why you should say no to plastic straws, watch this video of a sea turtle having a straw pulled out of its nostril. If you still feel okay about using plastic straws after that, plz unfollow me.
  • Get a reusable coffee thermos or mug. Ain’t no shame in treating yourself to a $5 latte on the regular, but there is shame in creating waste every time you indulge. Treat both yoself and the planet with some love–and a lot of coffeeshops give a little discount when you BYO! I use this Hydro Flask 22 oz. thermos, but reusable mugs are very frequently given out as swag at events and such, so you can likely score one for free too.
  • Keep a few reusable canvas bags in your car at all times. Let’s be real, you’ve got like 20 stuffed under your kitchen sink, yet somehow you never have one with you when you’re grocery shopping. It happens to us all, so be prepared and keep ’em stashed in your car instead. Commit yourself to never using a plastic bag ever again. This has been the most consistent elimination of single use plastic for me.
  • Bring your own take-out containers. Walking to the bagel shop to grab breakfast to-go? Bring your own tupperware to take ’em home in! I live a block away from killer taco stands, and instead of consuming a styrofoam plate every time I stop by (which is…frequently), I’ve started to bring my own plate. Think about all the places you can eliminate single-use dining ware–there are a lot of small changes we can make to reduce this disposable culture.
  • Bonus points: If you’re a little piggy like me and get delivery often, leave a little note in your GrubHub order for “no utensils or napkins, please!”

Play outdoors with yo mama in mind.

Every time you recreate, keep the earth in mind. Are you respecting her? Are you treating her well, helping her heal? Every time we play outside, we are taking from the earth. Are you giving back whenever you take? Tread lightly, leave no trace, pack-it-out, don’t bust the crust, respect the wildlife, and encourage others to do the same.

I challenge you to adopt a habit I picked up a few summers ago: pick up one piece of trash every time you go for a hike, run, climb, ski, whatever. Just one wrapper, piece of tape, straw, whatever you find on your adventure for the day. If everyone that used the trails did that, our public outdoor spaces would be a helluva lot cleaner.

Eat healthier–for yourself and for your earth.

This topic deserves its own conversation and post (which will come), because the choices we make with our food consumption plays a huge role in the relationship we have with our carbon footprint and lifestyle supply chain. As I mentioned earlier, knowing the source of your food is a major way to eat eco. Not only does a freshly picked apple from a local orchard taste better and fresher, it also has a much smaller footprint than an imported, months-old, sprayed-in-who-knows-what apple from the grocery store.

One of the top ways to individually reduce our carbon footprints is by going meatless. Before you groan and go back to your burger (oh how I miss those), hear me out. Cutting back our consumption of animal products is a process, a personal choice, and has many layers. For some folks, giving up meat isn’t an option–and I get that. If you do eat meat, commit to only eating local, sustainably + humanely raised meat, or wild hunted harvests. Consider adopting Meat-free Mondays, or only eating meat on weekends. If you do decide to give it up completely, do whatever works best for you (like me, I am vegetarian for environmental reasons, and it’s hard sometimes, I totally ate a piece of fish last week).

If you’re a real champion for the earth, go vegan. I am not one of those people, and I applaud folks who are.

Go out of your way to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Ride your bike more! In the summertime, I often try to see how long I can go without driving my car. Salt Lake City has excellent bike lanes, as do many bigger cities. Skip the car, rally your crew, and pedal!
  • Take public transportation. Again, why drive your car when you don’t have to? Public transportation is an inexpensive way to travel, and acts as a built-in designated driver. Salt Lake City’s TRAX system is fantastic, especially for easy airport transportation.
  • Carpool, especially if you’re heading to a crowded outdoor spot like ski resorts. If it’s a bluebird winter day, you know that you and everyone you know are heading to the same canyon to hit the slopes–so reduce the amount of emissions pouring into the air AND help reduce congestion by hopping in someone else’s car or offering rides to your friends.
  • Consider your air travel footprint. For a lot of folks in my industry, hopping on airplanes is practically part of our job descriptions. It’s also a major contributor to our personal carbon footprints. There is no easy solution here, except to consider the frequency and necessity of our travel by plane. Recently, I had two occasions to be on the east coast within 2 weeks. My options were to either fly to Maine/New Hampshire, fly back to SLC, and then hop on a plane a few days later to return to D.C., or to just combine the trips and the impact of those flights. So, I chose the later and ended up on a two-week adventure around the east coast–driving, so still not carbon neutral by any means, but better.

Make big changes where you can.

This one is for the over-achievers. Living more ‘earth-friendly’ is currently still much more expensive and inaccessible than living an ‘average’ carbon footprint. That said, if you are in a position to take bigger steps towards an eco lifestyle, do it. Install a few solar panels on your roof, focus on native landscaping in your backyard, buy an electric car. If you’re making big purchases, use your consumer power to support more sustainable economic options. You’re investing in a healthier future for yourself, and the entire planet.

In the course of writing this blog post, it’s become rather apparent to me that this idea of living more sustainably is far more worthy of a series–so, let me know what topics you want to hear more about first: the much-demanded tour of my eco-house, a guide to my favorite sustainable products, how to make your backyard/landscaping more earth friendly, any and all of the above?

And happy Earth Day. Today and every single day that we get to exist on this incredible hunk of rock and water orbiting around in outer space. Note: This blog post includes Amazon affiliate links! 

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Ultimate Outdoorist Gift Guide

The ultimate holiday gift guide for outdoorists and advocates.

Oh hello, gift giving season. Our Christmas tree is twinkling, the first ornament has been hung, and I am itching to start filling the base with treats for friends and family. I love the holidays.

Looking for the perfect thing to please the outdoorists in your life? You could just head to that “gifts for $15 and under” section of semi-worthless junk at Target–or you could fill your Christmas shopping list with thoughtful presents for people who deserve something more than a cheaply made enamel camp mug with a mustache on it.

The following list is full of my favorite products, worthy causes, and unconventional ways to give this season. Do good for the holidays.

Spoiler alert: This list goes beyond gear. Yes, I love a good sleeping bag–but I love doing good, taking care of myself, and taking care of the planet even more. And the holiday season is about more than just “stuff,” right?

Put Your Money Where Your Activism Is

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t need any more *things*–and sometimes, folks can be downright difficult to shop for (I’m pointing at my very picky, very particular boyfriend right now). The best gift you can give is putting your cash towards a good cause. Whether it’s a single-time donation, a sustaining contribution, or an annual membership, donate in your giftee’s name. Here are my top causes this season:

  • The Bears Ears Education Center Kickstarter. As the area sees skyrocketing recreation visitors, it’s our job as the folks who are making it so popular to provide educational resources to make sure visitors are good stewards to the land with a proper understanding of the areas history. This project does all of that. Proud to be a small part of this. Give. Them. Your. Money.
  • For the climate wonk: Protect Our Winters! Make a donation, or shop at their rad digital store. I love the work that POW is doing, and so should you.
  • For climbers: Make someone a member of American Alpine Club +/or Access Fund. Or, think locally, and make them a member of their local climbing coalition.
  • Because public land is native land: Folks keep asking me where the best place to send their money to support the ongoing fight for Bears Ears, and I think donating directly to the legal battle is an important cause. My dad asked where he should donate, and Len from Natives Outdoors said Native American Rights Fund is really leading the charge, so, NARF it is.

Small Acts of Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes

Outdoor advocacy is about more than just being pro-public lands. It reaches into the way we live our lives–and it begs us to be more conscious about our every day choices that can deeply affect our planet. Here are a few of the items I always have in within reach:

  • Never use plastic utensils again, go bamboo. I use my To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils set religiously. This set travels easily, cleans easily, and provides a palpable sense of self-satisfaction every time you ditch single-use ware.
  • Every human needs a reusable tote. I have about 20, but my favorite is the Cotopaxi Iba Tote. A) Sweet colors. B) Little pocket. C) Quality construction. D) Versatile use from groceries to road trip catch-all bag.
  • Reusable drinkware is the future. And by future, I mean now. I live for my teal Hydro Flask 22 oz stainless steel tumbler (with a ‘Do Good’ sticker slapped on it, of course). And coffeeshops usually fill up the whole thing for the price of a small coffee. If you want something with a tighter close, check out the 32 oz. bottle. Bonus: the gift recipient will think of you every morning when they refill their coffee!
  • For the straw lover: Simply Strawsnon-profit collection helps you keep plastic out of our oceans, and donates a percentage of each sale to organizations like Protect Our Winters.

Self-care, My Favorite Kind of Gift

Self-care is one of the greatest gifts you can give to outdoor advocates who spend their days calling reps, organizing community rallies, and fighting to protect the places they play. In the last year, I have found myself constantly emerging from the other side of intense politically-driven work sessions feeling exhausted. Bubble baths are my bff, acupuncture is my new go-to, and small self-love moments like face masks and chocolate croissants are what keep me charging. My picks:

  • Literally anything from Ursa Major. Naturally derived ingredients, all cruelty-free, smells like heaven, hip packaging, and my favorite skin care brand. These gift sets make it easy to find the perfect package. My go-to products are the face balm and 3-minute mask. Want 15% off your order? Use the code MORNINGFRESH, valid until 12/31/17. 
  • The Teva Ember Moc (bonus points for the velvet). Treat yo feet. Weird lookin’? Yes. Fuzzy comfy nest for your winter feet? Also yes. This gift idea doubles as a killer camp shoe + a comforting footwear for those “I’m staying up until 4 AM working on a public lands project” nights.
  • If you’re in SLC, check out The Little Wellness Place. It’s where I go for acupuncture, and has truly changed my life for the better. Gift someone an hourlong session, and they’ll thank you profusely.
  • Sweat it out. I recently did a monthlong Class Pass, and I loved it. This is a great gift for someone trying to find their personal fitness groove, or for someone who just moved to a new city and needs to test out the local way to get active. Yoga, spinning, boxing, cardio, it’s all there. Bonus points if you get yourself one too, because workouts are way better with a bud.

PS: I totally qualify edible treats as acts of self-love/self-care. Bring someone a pizza. Nothing says “I value you as a human and think you’re great” like a fresh-outta-the-oven pizza. Or donuts. Or tacos. Or homemade pie.

Support Your Local Economy + Artists

I could happily receive nothing but gifts from the local SLC farmers market for the rest of eternity. The markets, shops, and artisans in your town are the best resource for close-to-home gifts. Head to the farmers market for seasonal jams, handmade jewelry, bath bombs, even fresh food if you’re giving your gift promptly. Here in SLC, we have a pop-up called Salt & Honey, where all the craftsfolk from around the county set up mini vendor booths all in one incredible space. It’s only open for a few weeks, and I could spend my entire bank account in there–and when your support your local economy, everyone wins.

Because the east coast doesn’t get enough love: check out the map + outdoor prints, puzzles, and postcards from We Are Brainstorm. They donate a percentage of sales to organizations that are relevant to each corresponding piece in their collections, like Friends of Acadia, the National Park FoundationPCT Association, Access Fund, and the Society for Science.

And here are some of my favorite female artists (and overall humans) from around the west:

Ditch the Screen for a Good ‘Ole Paperback

Yeah, I said it, go read a book. Despite having a degree in creative writing, I am admittedly terrible at putting down ‘work reads’ and picking up books. So, let’s all change that. These are a few of my favorite things I’ve been reading, and all the authors are lovely colleagues in the industry who you can feel good about supporting.

Phew, that oughta last you for Christmas, birthdays, and all other gift-giving holidays. But if it didn’t: the folks at Cotopaxi came up with their own gift guide, here, which features a few of my favorite new items from their collection, including the Kusa Bomber Jacket. And if my guide isn’t quite cutting it, Paulina at Little Grunts also put together a gift guide for outdoor advocates.

Am I missing anything? Did you totally score as a gift-giver from reading this guide? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. +1000 if you send me a photo of someone opening their gift, I’m such a sucker for the holiday spirit. 

And when all else fails, get ’em an annual national parks pass.

Note: There are a few affiliate links scattered around in here, because, why not. 

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Guide to Public Lands Advocacy at Outdoor Retailer

Twice a year, I turn into a weird beast version of myself. My calendar is a color-coded event apocalypse where every afternoon and evening is quadruple booked. My inbox? Insanity. I do ridiculous things like think about my outfits in advance. It’s Outdoor Retailer week, and for some strange reason, I love it. This is the last of the tradeshows in Salt Lake City–I’ve already cried once, whatever. There’s a heavy layer of ‘the public lands issue’ settled over the Salt Palace. I’m way into that, because it means the entire industry is gathered under one roof to marinate on the topic for a week.

This OR Show is all about public lands advocacy. And that’s kinda my jam.


You, too, are stoked on public lands advocacy and want to get involved. How do I know this? Y’all have asked me a bazillion times in the last few weeks. Way jazzed on that, too. I’ve got a lot going on, my rad colleagues have a lot going on, and I figured I ought to just bring it all together in a quick guide to help you get activated around public lands and outdoor advocacy at Utah’s final Outdoor Retailer. Check it:

– Come to the RANGE Magazine issue launch at 4:30 on Wednesday (7/26) at the Ranger Station. The theme is “activate + organize” and I wrote a guide to outdoor advocacy that’ll be in the latest issue and heaps of rad industry folks have work in there too.

– Watch to my panel on outdoor advocacy and social media at 10:00 AM on Thursday (7/27). I’m moderating. Kenji Haroutunian, Caroline Gleich, Len Necefer from NativesOutdoors, Brody Leven (heeeey), and Land Tawney of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers are my panelists. Potential highlights include: conversations between my lifelong vegetarian boyfriend and the king of the hunting and fishing industry, asking Len about calling the industry out when we do things like appropriate, and me inevitably falling off my stool because I’m awkward in public. I’ll try to livestream this for anyone who isn’t attending OR! 

– Because you can never have enough panels, come to the When Women Lead discussion at 2:30, at The Camp, hosted by Wild Women’s Project and Coalition Snow.

– Join me, Hilary, The Wilderness Society and the storytellers community for a pre-march sign making rally at the Public Lands Action Center at 3:30 on 7/27. We’ll have supplies to put your march calls-to-action on cardboard–what’s a march without witty signs making a statement about our cause?–and The Wilderness Society will be on deck to chat about getting involved with advocacy. RANGE magazine is hosting one in the Venture Out pavilions too! There’s a Facebook event page here.  Also, if you have cardboard, I want it for our recycled sign making supplies, holla at me. 

MARCH WITH US. If you haven’t heard about the march for public lands yet, sheesh. At 4:30, we’re marching from the Public Lands Action Center rally–because obviously you’ll be there with me–through the Salt Palace, past downtown, all the way to Utah Capitol. We’ll hoist our signs, make a loud statement, gather on the lawn of the Capitol, and listen to powerful speakers during a rally about, well, our public lands. If you’re on social media, holla at #MarchForPublicLands.

– Attend the annual social media lunch on 7/28 at noon. I’m co-hosting with OIA, and we’re launching the Outdoor Advocate Network. It’s a powerful collective of the industry’s most impactful voices that want to do something about our industry’s biggest issues, and we’re going to empower you, and you def want to be involved. And free lunch, obvi–for the first 50 people. We’ll be networking after the event until 2:00, so come say hi even if you miss the actual lunch part. RSVP here (or if you want to get an update after the event if you can’t make it).

–I am mega stoked on this workshop: “(re)defining women in the outdoors.” It’s a little late on Friday, 3:30-4:30, at The Camp, but I think it’s going to be a good one. Read: “This interactive session is geared toward female and non-cis gender industry professionals who are excited to examine our (diverse) values and a develop a new vision for women in the outdoor industry.” Yaaaas. 

– Bonus points for early birds: If you’re into getting up before 8:00 AM, you should attend the breakfasts. At this year’s OIA Industry Breakfast, which basically kicks off the entire tradeshow, speakers include Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, and the queen herself, Sally Jewell. I mean seriously, hello. I always cry during these breakfasts because I’m so moved by the energy (and also it’s so early in the morning and I’m extra vulnerable). Conservation Alliance is hosting one the next day, which you can learn about here.

– If you’re in town early: Go to Outsiders Ball! Totally qualifies as outdoor advocacy-related in my book because it’s a giant, wonderful fundraiser that supports Outdoor Foundation, which works to get youth out into nature. Party on, outdoorists. Then, go enjoy free drinks and at the official after party/climbing fundraiser for the American Alpine Club at Bodega.

See you all in SLC next week, my friends!

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Oh, hello there. It’s me, Katie.

Well. Hey, hi, hello. How are ya? It’s been…a while. 

The Mojave National Preserve on the way to Joshua Tree National Park in California.

I used to write to you more. This blog was full of love letters to the outdoors and to a wild life, and to you, my readers. Home to my favorite stories, a digital book in which to take notes of moments that moved me and adventures worth sharing. But sometimes, life moves at a pace so fast it’s all you can do to keep up.

So, the love letters stopped. I hit the road again, solo. I quit my job. I moved to Salt Lake City. I fell in love, hard. I slowed down, I sped up, I kept pushing forward. I traveled the west all summer, went to the Philippines in winter. In the past four weeks, I’ve been to Moab, Joshua Tree, Las Vegas, the Florida Keys, the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and tomorrow, Cuba.

It feels like the right time to start writing those love letters again.

I hope maybe you’ll still read them. I haven’t been writing here, but I have taken to keeping a leather journal–back to writing love letters to my life by hand. I’ll share excerpts here, and photos from those moments, and thoughts as I reflect on it all.

Love, Katie.

PS: I know, the blog needs love. I need to hire a web designer to seriously help me out with bringing The Morning Fresh back to life. If you know anyone in SLC, holla! Until I stop traveling enough to sit down and spruce ‘er up, I hope you’ll read and overlook how god awful this site looks right now.

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We elected a climate denier, so now what? Roll up your sleeves for the outdoors

I’m still trying to digest the election. I’m still trying to make sense of it all. I wasn’t prepared for this–not at all. I see now that I had been living in a bubble of privilege and community that led me to the ignorant sureness that Trump could never become the leader of my country. It has been (and still is) a major adjustment to chew on.


Photo: Jo Savage (@SavageDangerWolf)

I spent Election Day on the California coast, with my phone in airplane mode. I had emerged from camping in the redwoods that morning and thought to myself, “no sense in driving myself nuts with election coverage all day, I’ll just tune back in later tonight when Hillary takes it.” I was not prepared for what I saw when I finally turned on the television. I ended my day at a seaside hotel, cradled in a fancy bathrobe while crying over the unexpected future that had just been thrust upon me.

What happens now?

This new political climate we live in stretches so much further than the outdoor advocacy I’ve been focused on for the past few years. This brings back the other issues I used to fight for: gay rights and equality, women’s reproductive rights, immigration and refuges.

It’s overwhelming to think too hard about everything that is at stake now. I’ve witnessed a lot of turmoil, anguish, mourning, and heartbreak. Many of us needed to step back for a few moments of self-care, to pause for a moment and focus on self before diving in to care for others. The accompanying messages reminding friends to look out for themselves and remember that they are loved were some of the first glimpses of hope I saw emerge from the rubble.

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen the start of an uprising. We had our moment to be sad and upset, and now it’s time to move into action. My inbox has been flooded with messages asking me how to get involved, what organizations to support, what the outdoor industry is going to do. And not just a single moment of doing something–this is about adapting our lifestyle to accommodate the grit and tenacity needed to protect what matters.

To protect our public lands and the planet;
To protect our fellow Americans;
To protect women’s bodies;
To protect all the progress our country has made in the past decade.

We have questions. Where do we go from here? What is the first step? And the second, and the third? How can we protect the places we play? What do we say to our children? We can’t pretend this isn’t happening, so what do we do now?

There is much work to be done. And we have so much to give. But where to start? I think the first place is figuring out what issues matter the most to you. What do you want to pour your effort and energy into? Is it climate change, reproductive rights, youth homelessness, sustainability? How about leave no trace ethics, the immigration and refuge crisis, saving the bees, saving the glaciers? Maybe tackling racism, homophobia, and that whole white supremacy thing that just casually became acceptable again? Pick your battles, and then suit up. Dedicate yourself to them. 

And of course, the backbone of it all: building community. Where would we be without our brothers and sisters? Our fellow outdoorists, our neighbors, our family, the people we love and work with. Through all of this, remember the value of your community. Protect each other, support each other, care for each other, love each other fiercely.

Here are a few of the many ways to roll up your sleeves:

  • Give to the organizations you support. I’m guilty of not doing this–I’m a big advocate for organizations like Outdoor Alliance, Protect Our Winters, Sierra Club, and American Alpine Club, but I never give. I had a membership to AAC and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, but they both lapsed. Now is the time to renew, to start giving what you can. This is the time to skip the daily latte and make contributions to the organizations representing your causes out on the front lines. You might think you can’t afford a $25 annual membership fee–but what you really can’t afford is losing access to public lands. Priorities, kids.
  • Start using your social channels for advocacy. Get vocal about the issues you care about. Amplify your allies, and support your community. Express your disappointment in elected officials who aren’t serving you.
  • Pick up the phone. I know, it’s intimidating–but it’s effective. Social media makes it easy to participate; I’ve seen multiple folks posting with specific instructions guiding you through the calling/survey process and how to leave messages for your representatives.

    Your voice is so important now, use it.

  • Keep an eye on OIA. Yes, I work with Outdoor Industry Association, so I’m biased–but the policy work OIA does affects every member of the outdoor community. And we’re going all in this year. There’s an incredible outdoor advocacy action center launching in 2017 that will be a vital resource in the fight for public lands and protecting the future of our industry. Listen to the post-election podcast.
  • Attend protests. March alongside your community. Make signs, sing chants, hold hands with strangers in the streets. Be present for the issues that matter to you. (I’ll see you at the SLC Women’s March on January 23rd–similar events are happening all over the country. Go to one.)
  • Go ask Erin Outdoors about working in a community kitchen to serve locally. Contributing locally is going to be a huge part of facilitating unity and remembering the light during periods of darkness. Volunteer at your local humane society, help weed your community garden, go to a trail day. These may not seem like political activism, but they’re an important part of the equation too.

It’s going to be a long, hard four years for environmentalists and outdoor advocates. We seriously just put a climate denier in the White House, and now we have to face the consequences. I never expected to be considering the possibility of putting myself on a Muslim registry to help protect my fellow Americans. I never expected to get calls from girlfriends urging me to get an IUD because I might soon lose rights over my own body. I never expected to see hateful racists having a moment of empowerment, crawling out of the pathetic caves from which they usually reside.

I never expected this outcome, but here it is. Here we are, in this new reality–and our only option is to fight. So let’s fight hard, together.

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Hitting the road, on my way to slowing down.

Tomorrow, I’m moving to Salt Lake City.

The first time I crossed state lines into Utah was on my first big climbing trip in 2010. It was me and three dirtbag Florida boys, living out of a sputtering Jeep for a month in pursuit of western crags. Check out some of my old film photos from that trip here

The 30-day journey was a total mess, and we only climbed for like 8 days total and we all got sick after foolishly deciding that an all-you-can-eat buffet pit stop at Golden Coral was a good idea—but I still remember the dusty, dark gas station we pulled into when we crossed into Utah in the middle of the night. The stars were so bright, and there were coyotes howling in the distance, and deer kept leaping in front the Jeep as we swept through towering red rocks, and I had never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life.

I don’t think we even stopped in Utah at all on that trip. It was just the connector between Colorado and the Grand Tetons– but since that moment, Utah has been my most sacred place. I find peace in the desert, challenge in the mountains, and a sense of belonging that I haven’t felt so strongly anywhere else on earth. This is my place, and it’s time to make it more than just the space I escape to.

Utah, you’re home, and this little bird flying back to roost for a while.

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