Morro Rock in the mist. This iconic figure of the area was just one of many sights that several Mammoth writers enjoyed while participating in the Outdoor Writers Association of California’s spring conference. (Photo: Kirkner)
Local (and formally local) writers participate in outdoor conference
Over the past few years, Mammoth writers and photographers have infiltrated the Outdoors Writers Association of California (OWAC). This past week, a small, local contingent made its way to the coast to take part in the organization’s spring conference, held in Morro Bay.
OWAC is a non-profit association of media professionals who communicate the vast array of outdoor recreational opportunities and related issues in California and the surrounding western region.
Monica Prelle Carlton, David Page, myself, as well as former Mammoth residents Dana Nichols and Mike McKenna gathered at the conference and quickly became dubbed “the Mammoth group.”
McKenna introduced me to OWAC several years ago and encouraged me to join. He and wife Brooke, plus their sons Jack and Sam, as many people know, have since moved to Hailey, Idaho where McKenna took on the job of Managing Editor for Sun Valley Magazine.
While no longer a California resident, McKenna plans to stay involved with OWAC (he still thinks California writers are the best) and will attend the fall conference, which is being held in September, right here in Mammoth.
I was able to catch up with McKenna while in Morro Bay. He has settled into his work at Sun Valley Magazine, but pointed out that he is editing way more than he ever has, even compared to his work with Eastside Magazine. But don’t worry, he still finds time to write, and won three first place awards at the OWAC conference for his efforts (Prelle also nabbed a pile of awards for her work).
McKenna’s wife Brooke is working for the Hunger Coalition in the family’s new locale, while oldest son, Jack has begun to out-fish his father.
The coast-side conference included Eastside flair, not only because of the Mammoth attendees, but also because several of the speakers spoke about the Sierra Nevada (no surprise since Page helped coordinate this portion of the colloquium).
Beth Pratt, the California Director for the National Wildlife Federation, has also served as the Vice President/CFO for the non-profit Yosemite Association. She had much to say about climate change and the state of California wildlife, and used the dramatic shift in the Eastern Sierra from one of the wettest winters to one of the driest, as an image of what she called “the ghost of the future for the Sierra.”
“Hiking in January at 12,000 feet in shorts was cool, but scary,” Pratt said. “Things are changing.”
Another featured speaker was filmmaker Steven Bumgardner, producer of the popular web video series “Yosemite Nature Notes.” You may not know Bumgardner by name, but chances are you’ve seen his video, “Frazil Ice,” which went viral in 2010. Bumgardner distilled a Yosemite winter phenomenon that very few people knew about into a seven-minute film.
Look for talented people such as these in Mammoth this September. You’ll recognize them by the notebooks and cameras they can’t help but carry.
Ed. note: By the way, Kirkner grabbed a first, second and third place award at the conference, but was clearly too modest to tell you.