by John S. Adams, Tribune Capitol Bureau
HELENA — A Montana ecosystem protection group received a big financial boost last week, thanks to world-famous recording legends Carole King and James Taylor.
On June 20, the duo presented Alliance for the Wild Rockies Executive Director Michael Garrity with a $326,000 check at a performance in Boston.
The singing and songwriting icons are midway through their “Troubadour Reunion” tour. Along the way, they are donating proceeds from the sale of certain VIP tickets to a handful of nonprofit organizations. For example, the Natural Resources Defense Council was awarded a $385,000 check at the same event. All told, the Troubadour Reunion tour has raised more than $1.3 million for charity just half-way through the 40-concert event.
King, a former board member of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, selected the Helena-based nonprofit as one of the recipients of the “Tickets for Charity” proceeds.
“James and I are thrilled to support these two worthy organizations,” said King, a resident of Stanley, Idaho. “I particularly care about the work for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies since I live in the northern Rockies. (The Alliance) is a grassroots organization that does invaluable work to protect the northern Rockies for all Americans.”
Garrity said he found out about the donation two days before the June 20 concert.
“They called me Friday night and told me to get on a plane for Boston Saturday morning,” Garrity said. “I was shocked.”
Garrity said the donation, which is actually the sum of hundreds of smaller donations made by concertgoers who bought special VIP charity tickets, is the largest single check the organization has ever received.
“I had no idea it would turn into this much money,” Garrity said.
He said the donation will cover about three years worth of operating expenses for the group.
“A lot of environmental groups, even a lot of nonprofit groups, spend a majority of their time and money trying to raise money,” Garrity said. “Donations like this let us focus our work on what we’re trying to do rather than to try to raise money. That’s why it’s so wonderful.”
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies authored and is the chief advocate for the passage of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, a bill that would protect all the remaining roadless areas in the northern Rockies through wilderness designation.
The measure is sponsored by Democratic Representatives Carolyn Maloney of New York and Raul Grijalva of Arizona. More than 100 other members of the House of Representatives have signed on to the bill, but measure has not yet received a vote in the House.
King has been a long time advocate for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act and Garrity called her the organizations “chief lobbyist in Washington, D.C.”
“The tens of thousands of people who are going to Carole King and James Taylor concerts around the country this summer can be sure this money will be carefully used to protect habitat in the northern Rockies, and we will continue to protect more with less, especially compared to the big corporate-model environmental groups,” Garrity said.