Outstanding Partnership Stories: Outdoor Gear Exchange and Vermont Land Trust Create a Lasting Legacy

Photo: Broudy/Donohue Photography

Creating a lasting legacy: Outdoor Gear Exchange was instrumental in Vermont Land Trust's campaign to protect the Bolton Valley.

In 2012, Vermont Land Trust (VLT) engaged in a public campaign to protect the 1,100-acre Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry property, a critical wildlife habitat link that provides unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities in northern Vermont.  In April, 2013 VLT reached their $1,050,000 fundraising goal and will soon permanently protect land with a conservation easement and transfer to the State of Vermont as part of Mount Mansfield State Forest.  Conservation Alliance Member, Outdoor Gear Exchange (gearx.com), was a critical collaborator in the effort to protect the Bolton Nordic and Backcountry land, and has played a key role in helping VLT and the community achieve their objective.

When Vermont Land Trust announced the decision to work with a group of community volunteers to protect the Bolton Valley property, the response of Outdoor Gear Exchange's leadership team was immediate. Outdoor Gear Exchange (OGE) co-owners Marc Sherman and Mike Donohue not only nominated Vermont Land Trust for a Conservation Alliance grant (which was awarded), they also determined that nearly every Outdoor Gear Exchange event and program over the next seven months would benefit or promote the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry campaign in some way. These community outreach programs and events were critical in the campaign's success and included:

  • Outdoor Gear Exchange reached out one of their key vendors, Kuhl Clothing, who's slogan is "Born in the Mountains", in hopes of finding a creative way to sponsor the ad campaign.  Kuhl loved the idea and partnered with OGE and PointFM, a popular Vermont radio station, to run a series of vignettes  emphasizing what Bolton meant to its users and encouraging the public to help fund this important acquisition. The value of this campaign was more than $7,500 and was instrumental in garnering support for the project.
  • Organizing and underwriting a major "Fall Fashion Show" event in the Burlington store as a benefit event for the campaign. In October of 2012, OGE held "Ullr's Dream", their first annual fall fashion show; staff modeled their latest in winter apparel to an enthusiastic crowd that also enjoyed refreshments and music. The evening included a presentation from VLT about the Bolton campaign. OGE also organized an online silent auction offering the opportunity to bid on the outfits modeled. Proceeds from both the event and the corresponding auction went straight to the Bolton campaign. The evening raised thousands of dollars for the project.
  • Dedicating proceeds from multiple Fall 2012 film screening events to the Bolton campaign, including the popular "Choose Your Own Adventure" ski film that attracted over 100 attendees.
  • In January of 2013, OGE partnered with Mammut and backcountry skiing enthusiast Murray Banks to present a slideshow on hut-to-hut backcountry skiing in the Alps. The event included a presentation from VLT, a raffle, and refreshments. Over 150 people attended, and 100% of proceeds went to the Bolton campaign.

The Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry property holds an almost sacred status for hundreds of people who have become connected to the land over many decades. Outdoor Gear Exchange demonstrated their understanding of the importance of this property to the community, and they were a key partner in Vermont Land Trust's success. As a result of their commitment and support, Vermont has lasting legacy in Bolton.

Photo: Marc Sherman