Musings From The Hill


Guest Blog Writer, POW Campaigns and Policy Team

Greetings from our nation’s capital! 

What an extraordinary Tuesday (3/19) we had on Capitol Hill. POW was privileged to witness two of our highly committed and engaged Athlete Alliance members – Gus Schumacher and Hilary Hutcheson – sharing their compelling personal narratives before the Senate Budget Committee, composed of Republicans and Democrats, regarding the profound impacts of climate change on the outdoor recreation economy. Gus and Hilary are long-time members of the POW Athlete Alliance, and Hilary is a Protect Our Winters Board of Directors member.

Gus and Hilary after the Senate Budget Committee meeting

Gus, a 23-year-old distinguished US Olympian and the first US-born male in 40 years to make history for the United States and clinch a World Cup title in Cross Country Skiing, poignantly highlighted the gradual decline of his sport due to diminishing snowfall and the dwindling availability of recreational spaces. His testimony underscored the mounting challenges in sustaining economic viability within the skiing community amidst escalating climate threats. Gus’ personal lived experiences highlight seeing climate change on the front lines of outdoor landscapes around the world.

Gus Schumacher winning his Wold Cup title at the Loppet World Cup earlier this year | Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski Team

Hilary Hutcheson recounted her experiences as a Montana outfitter for the Northern Rockies region’s largest and longest-standing commercial river company. With a workforce of 185 individuals, including 100 river guides, her testimony underscored the broader economic implications affecting livelihoods beyond her own. Hilary is a leader in her community as an outfitter, an iconic angler and an ambassador for the industry’s top brands.

Hilary Hutcheson casting a line in the Salmon River in Idaho

In addition to these pivotal testimonies, Gus, Hilary and our dedicated team engaged in productive discussions with congressional staff on the Hill regarding the Ruby Mountains Protection Act, advocating fervently for its passage. Over the 48 hours, the POW Alliance members and POW Campaigns staff held eight meetings, making the most of every moment in DC. 

The outcomes of these meetings and testimonies were profoundly encouraging. Protect Our Winters takes immense responsibility for the advocacy efforts of our Alliance members and team, who are steadfastly committed to addressing climate change amidst the complexities of our political landscape. Showing up in DC is not for the faint of heart, and our Alliance takes this challenge head-on, as they do excellence in their respective sports and communities—to drive impact and make a positive difference with the privilege of their platforms. Our overarching advocacy objective in DC remains to catalyze decisive governmental action on climate while protecting the places and experiences we hold dear. As with all our DC time, this advocacy trip emboldened POW to continue to show up on Capitol Hill. 

POW does not believe that climate change should be a partisan issue, and we are profoundly disappointed that during questions, Senator Kennedy chose to focus on political theater and personal attacks on the witnesses rather than on how to address the real and serious impacts of climate change on the outdoor recreation economy. In fact, this particular Senator, who receives substantial contributions from the oil and gas industry, didn’t even make the time to attend the full hearing. He dropped in for approximately five minutes to launch partisan and personal attacks and then left the room. That’s not leadership and the American people deserve better.  Our athletes are true patriots and don’t claim to be climate scientists. But they are experts in witnessing first-hand changes to the environments they have been recreating in their entire lives. And these stories matter. Experiences like this further fuel POW and underscore the importance of showing up, speaking out and engaging in our civic responsibilities. 

On behalf of the Team at POW and the Outdoor State, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Hilary and Gus for their unwavering commitment to their country, sports and our collective cause. These Alliance members exemplify the essence of national heroes, continuously inspiring us with their actions!