Meet the Columnist: Jason Martin, alpine guide

Writing about fresh air, sometimes the thin kind
January 25, 2022 at 6:25 a.m.

CDN Contributor

I am excited to introduce myself as a new columnist at Cascadia Daily News. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to inform you, inspire you and entertain you. 

So, who am I and why should you care about what I have to say?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the outdoor industry for 22 years. I’m a widely published outdoor writer who has authored and co-authored four books and written for a variety of magazines and newspapers.

I’m also a professional mountain guide, and I’m one of the owners of the American Alpine Institute (AAI) — a Bellingham-based mountain climbing school and guide service that runs programs all over the world. I’m also a volunteer with the Bellingham Mountain Rescue Council. I’m a climber and a skier, a backpacker and a canyoneer. I’m married and I’m dad to two teenagers.

In my work for AAI, I’ve had the opportunity to instruct and guide in six different states and five different countries. I have served on several not-for-profit boards in the outdoor industry. I regularly attend meetings and conferences throughout the country that focus on outdoor access, outdoor equity, conservation, public lands management, wilderness risk management, wilderness rescue, and on the manufacturing and sales of outdoor equipment.

In addition to all of this, I’m an outdoor activist with a deep interest in the politics of the outdoors. And that interest and the knowledge I’ve gained over the last 22 years in the industry will be the primary focus of this column.

When people hear that I like to write about the politics of the outdoors, they often immediately think of anthropogenic climate change. I’m certainly interested in that and will write about it. But my focus will primarily be on how it impacts those who choose to recreate and work in the outdoor, wilderness or mountain environments. This will include pieces on wildfire mitigation, glacial recession, flooding and heat. It will also include pieces on specific threats to the mountains that surround us and to those who work and play there.

That said, there’s lot more to “outdoor politics” than climate. My column will share stories and opinion on everything from the business of the outdoors to the management of roads and trails. I’ll write about diversity and equity in the outdoor space, and I’ll write about how companies and organizations are managing that.

I’ll write about user conflicts on the trails and in the mountains, and on potential solutions. I’ll write about National Parks, National Forests, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as the state agencies that oversee our public lands. I’ll write about the politics of wilderness rescue; and I’ll write about conservation initiatives in both the frontcountry and in the backcountry.

Occasionally, outdoor politics include actual politics. In this column I'll report to you on how different politicians, their policies and their legislation impact the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy. I’ll comment on the nuance of all this as well. Outdoor politics are sometimes quite partisan, and at other times, they’re not. The stories within this realm are not clear cut Republican versus Democrat. Instead, they’re often recreation versus conservation. They’re state versus federal. They’re one set of industry lobbyists against another set. There is a lot of gray in this realm overshadowing the green of the trees and meadows. I’ll dig into that for you.

And finally, I’ll write about specific types of outdoor recreation and how they negotiate all of this. Climbers and mountaineers, skiers and snowboarders, mountain bikers and boaters, trail runners and backpackers, and many others in the outdoor adventure sphere have an interest here — but not always the same interest. I’ll dive into that, too.

I’m confident you’ll appreciate what you read in this column — and I cannot wait to get started!

If you have story ideas or leads, feel free to contact me at jason@alpineinstitute.com, and follow me on Twitter @OutdoorPolitics.

Jason Martin's outdoors column appears monthly. Interested in being a Cascadia Daily News outdoors contributor? Send samples or ideas to newstips@cascadiadaily.com.
Have a news tip? Email newstips@cascadiadaily.com or Call/Text 360-922-3092

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