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First Lite’s Conservation Efforts Ensure Hunting Opportunities Go Further, Stay Longer

First Lite Conservation Initiative(Photo/First Lite)
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The Idaho-based company creates on-the-ground opportunities for employees and hunters to participate in its conservation initiatives.

Conservation efforts tend to be at the forefront of most outdoor companies these days  and that’s awesome. Outside of the funds generated from hunting licenses and the Pittman-Robertson Act, some brands have been stepping up to supplement the pot.

Those dedicated federal financial resources do wonders for wildlife restoration, R3 initiatives, and hunter-education systems. They keep things moving forward; however, these funds broadly serve conservation efforts. As such, many don’t address highly specific wildlife needs at the state or regional levels. This is where some companies have been lacing up their boots to fill the void.

To contribute beyond this passive form of conservation and address specific needs, First Lite, the Idaho-based hunting and outdoor apparel company, provides multiple avenues for its employees and customers to participate in conservation.

First Lite’s Conservation Efforts at the Forefront of the Mission

First Lite Conservation Program
(Photo/First Lite)

First Lite’s Director of Brand Ford Van Fossan, who heads the company’s conservation initiatives, filled me in on First Lite’s approach to this work.

“Conservation was hammered into First Lite’s DNA,” he says. “We siphon these efforts through three silos: fundraising, advocacy, and on-the-ground work. Fundraising is self-explanatory but ranges in everything from Idaho Rivers United raffling First Lite gear to something as simple as our Round Up for Conservation initiative.”

As part of its Round Up for Conservation initiative, First Lite allows customers to round up their orders or donate $1 to one of their many conservation partners, which First Lite then matches every year on National Public Lands Day.

One of the most prominent ways the company participates in fundraising is by working alongside the National Deer Association (NDA) via its Camo for Conservation program. That partnership has raised over $200,000 to date by donating a portion of sales from its proprietary Whitetail Camo pattern, Specter. So, if you’re currently chasing whitetails and looking for more ways to contribute to this branch of conservation, it can be as simple as buying a new base layer, pants, or jacket.

While these donations stem strictly from First Lite’s Specter pattern, Van Fossan said that First Lite wants to include other products. The hope is to include boots, guns, bows, or other gear that features the pattern in the future.

Backyard Conservation

Brush For Bucks
(Photo/First Lite)

Though First Lite’s reach extends throughout the country, the company makes it a priority to ensure that conservation needs are met in its own backyard. Through their Brush for Bucks initiative, the employees at First Lite work to rehab native shrubbery that elk, deer, and antelope feed on throughout their winter ranges — which are ravaged by annual fires.

After these fires, invasive cheatgrass and medusahead rye outcompete the native shrubs these animals depend on. To combat this, the company purchases thousands of sage and bitterbrush seedlings each fall. Those seedlings are then planted on crucial winter ranges by employees.

First Lite even recently received a grant from the state of Idaho to purchase 10,000 sagebrush seedlings for the program.

First Lite Conservation Work in Action
(Photo/First Lite)

Aside from fundraising and on-the-ground work, advocacy through media, according to Van Fossan, probably contributes most to their conservation efforts.

“Communicating our conservation ideas through various social media channels or outlets is hard to measure, but they’re certainly reaching millions of eyes,” Van Fossan says. “It’s incredibly important to our hunting heritage and wildlife in general.”

Though it may be hard to measure its effectiveness through media platforms, First Lite demonstrates a similar approach to advocacy as it does to on-the-ground work. And it isn’t just throwing around numbers and calling it a day. It’s providing quality hunting clothing that allows you to participate in conservation efforts beyond a general license and ammo tax. These conscious efforts reveal that First Lite knows conservation extends beyond just hunting.

For a company that depends on sales, their commitment to conservation organizations highlights that there’s always work to be done. It’s work that might not produce immediate gratification — like walking up on a prize buck — but it perpetuates opportunities for hunters down the line.

And through its business, First Lite gives you a chance to do the same.

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