onX Hosts an Industry-First Symposium of Diverse Recreators and Land Management Groups

This summer, onX hosted an industry-first event called Shared Ground. An unlikely coalition of hunters, dirt bikers, backcountry skiers, ultra runners, land conservation and stewardship organizations gathered in Bozeman to talk about our public lands—a resource shared by all, but in different ways. 

To kick off the event, onX quickly addressed the elephant in the room. Through an anonymous app, onX prompted attendees to share the misperceptions that exist among the different outdoor recreation groups present. As those words and phrases began to trickle in, displayed on screen in real time, the room began to feel a little uncomfortable. Human-powered recreators were painted as entitled hippies and elite fitness junkies. Hunters, on the other hand, were stereotyped as male-dominated trophy seekers. Off-roaders were also misrepresented as noisy adrenaline junkies or destructive rule breakers. Ouch. But it wasn’t all bad. The group also recognized how human-powered recreators have pushed their sports’ boundaries, how hunters are also conservationists, and how off-road travel can positively impact local communities.

When asked what fueled everyone’s passion for the outdoors, it was clear that a common thread wove together all types of recreation. Attendees noted how nature provided escape, rejuvenation, and the reward of overcoming physical and mental challenges. They were motivated by the unknown, the possibility of discovery, and the chance to explore. 

Shared Ground attendees spent the first day of the symposium learning from each other and their shared outdoor experiences.

The event’s emcee, Conrad Anker, continued this thread of exploration. He reminded us that on that day, 53 years ago, man walked on the moon. This accomplishment took place only a few years after Sir Edmund Hilary had summited Mount Everest. When it comes to exploration, humans are intrepid and persistent. They are curious and capable of pushing boundaries and re-defining limits. But with these abilities comes great responsibility.

Looking around the room, he let this sink in. Listening were athletes who had ascended some of the world’s highest peaks, off-roaders who have explored endless miles on backcountry roads, and hunters who have observed wildlife in some of our country’s most remote corners. And while adventure looks different to each of these groups, they all rely on the same resource–our public lands. 

Throughout the day, attendees shared experiences, talked about their misconceptions, and searched for common ground. In addition to having more in common than they might have thought, they realized that by uniting together, they can achieve more to protect our outdoor experiences than they can as divided groups. 

The group got their hands dirty on day two, rebuilding and restoring a local trail system with Gallatin Valley Land Trust.

Shared Ground became the genesis of various ideas, brainstormed by attendees to preserve and improve access to our public lands, to share the importance of stewardship with our collective audiences, and reduce the impact we all have on our natural playgrounds.

We’re excited to share those projects that onX will help support this coming year:

  1. Take Out the Trash at Tillamook! This November, TreadLightly! and the Oregon Department of Forestry will team up to clean up a road network and dispersed camping area in Tillamook State Forest. This area provides access to trail systems used by dirt bikers, quads, SxS, and 4x4s, and is popular among hunters and anglers as well.
  2. Mt Ellis Legacy Partnership Just south of Bozeman, Montana lies 6,500 acres of State Trust Lands that are home to a variety of natural resources and recreation opportunities. The partnership will create a set of recommendations to steward and care for this special landscape by the end of 2023. The plan will bring together a variety of perspectives to find a balance between both wildlife and recreation considerations.
  3. Finding Shared Values in Elk Management A coalition of hunting advocacy and education partners aim to unite hunters and private landowners around common values. The group will work to craft a video that highlights different opportunities for collaboration among state agencies, sportsmen and women, and private landowners.

If these projects sound like something your community could benefit from, onX also offers Access and Stewardship Grants throughout the year. This funding supports the efforts of land trusts, conservation nonprofits, agencies, and trail associations to help improve public access and steward our pubic lands. Don’t miss the next application deadline, October 16, 2022.


Molly Stoecklein

Growing up in the east, Molly’s first claim to fame was a 1998 New York State Ski Ballet Championship title. Since, she’s never lived far from the mountains and now calls Bozeman home. When she’s not heading up PR and Communications for onX, she’s out exploring on skis or bike, or with fly rod in hand.