History of the BlueRibbon Coalition
The BlueRibbon Coalition was born in 1987 shortly after Clark Collins, Founder and first Executive Director, was told by then Idaho Governor John Evans that recreationists were not politically significant and implied that Wilderness was more important than motorized access to public lands.
Clark gathered and worked with other recreationists in a huge undertaking to educate all users of public lands in Idaho just how our resources were not being preserved FOR the public, but rather FROM the public. Thus, we have the seeds of what would ultimately become the BlueRibbon Coalition.
In early 1987, Clark was able to formally incorporate the Idaho Public Land Users Association to help educate and inform motorized recreationists about the state legislative effort. By April 1987, the BlueRibbon Coalition was incorporated and running full bore in getting folks involved in the land use and access process while building membership. (Note: See article by Darryl Harris for more background.)
In late 1988, the Coalition received additional financial support from the OHV manufacturers that enabled BRC to hire Clark full-time as Executive Director. Initially, he ran the organization from an office in his home. In 1989, Adena Cook became our second paid staff member as Public Lands Director. Up until that time, Adena had been our volunteer secretary since the first Board was elected in the fall of 1987.
With that cast in place, BRC continued to grow its effectiveness in national recreation advocacy. For example, in 1989 the Coalition focused on demonstrating the importance of national trail funding legislation. BRC empowered members to get involved in the National Recreational Trails Fund Act, which passed in 1991. The educational outreach and grassroots effort leading to the establishment of this program is considered by many to be the single most significant trail funding legislative effort in the country. (Note: See further below for timeline information from Clark Collins on RTP history.)
In 1996, the Coalition contracted Del Albright to help develop a Strategic Plan for BRC that BRC continues to follow. As one of our contractors, Del Albright currently serves as BRC's 4-wheel drive Ambassador. During 1996, the BlueRibbon Coalition also contracted with Don Amador as the group's Western Representative, a role in which he continues to serve.
Late in 1996, the BlueRibbon Coalition hired Michael Patty as editor of the BlueRibbon Magazine. In his full time position, Michael also took on the job of maintaining and improving the BRC website at that time. Early in 2007, BRC hired Travis Poppe as its website and IT specialist. In January of 2010, the BlueRibbon Magazine went entirely online as part of the move toward a more updated communication network. In the Fall of 2011, the integration of the magazine into a fully-dynamic online webzine completed the final stage of BRC's latest move to modernize and improve its member communication. A continuously updated stream of recreation news, editorial commentary and a host of additional content at that point became available to members and the public, moving BRC into the leading edge of the twenty-first century.
In early 1997, BRC established the Legal Action Fund and retained the Boise legal firm then known as Moore & McFadden to help defend our recreation access in the courtroom (Note: See article by Adena Cook for more background). BRC blossomed into a significant resource to help recreationists understand and be represented in administrative and judicial arenas. This involvement has greatly enhanced our ability to participate in and influence the management of public lands.
Mary Jo Foster was welcomed full-time as the BRC Membership Manager in May of 1998 and thereby improved capacity to promote and service membership efforts. Mary Jo currently continues those efforts, as well as shoulders the responsibility of being Administrative Director. Under her supervision, Barbara Larson came on board as bookkeeper in the summer of 2004.
Adena Cook decided to retire from full-time employment in 2004, and Bill Dart (from AMA District 38) was hired to fill the position as Public Lands Director. Adena Cook continued to be an important consultant for BRC for many years to come.
In 2004, Clark Collins stepped into the role of Development Director to focus his time on planned BRC development efforts. Bill Dart made the shift from the Public Lands Director to Executive Director. Following that shift, in March of that year, Brian Hawthorne, formerly of the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL), was hired as the Public Lands Director for the BlueRibbon Coalition.
In late fall of 2005 and with the anticipated growth of Forest Service and BLM travel management planning, Brian Hawthorne strategically added Ric Foster to the Public Lands Department to facilitate managing the additional workload.
Prior to the BRC Board of Directors hiring Greg Mumm (previously a member of the Board of Directors) to serve as the Coalition's Executive Director starting in 2006, Clark had again served briefly as Executive Director before calling it a day at the end of 2005. (Note: See Interview with Clark for his thoughts in retrospect.)
Today, the BlueRibbon Coalition is a respected national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. BRC currently employs seven full-time people, in addition to two contractors.
From the beginning, the BlueRibbon Coalition has been and continues to be guided by a host of Board Members who have graciously donated their time, skill, and talents. These largely unsung volunteer heroes, who serve or have served, continue to represent the interests of recreationists across this country by communicating and meeting regularly to develop key strategies, policy, and implementation plans for the future of BRC.
The successful BRC strategy of working administratively, legislatively, and legally for effective recreational advocacy is now a quarter of a century time tested and ground proven. The BRC TEAM looks forward to continuing its mission to "champion responsible use of public lands for the benefit of all recreationists" into the future (Note: See how BRC is fighting to protect your recreational access).