Legal News

Protecting the Mountaineers Foundation name and legacy

A note from Mindy Roberts, past President and current Secretary of Keta Legacy Foundation aka Mountaineers Foundation since 1968

The Mountaineers Foundation was founded in 1968 by a small group of men and women who were dedicated to conserving the beautiful spaces of the Puget Sound region and helping connect people to nature. For over 50 years, our volunteer-led organization has been funded by generous donors who support our land acquisition and preservation work, stewardship of The Rhododendron Preserve, and environmental education programs for local youth.

Our long-time supporters are familiar that some of our work has been in partnership with the similarly-named alpine club known as The Mountaineers. And some of our supporters are aware of a legal conflict that has recently arisen between our similarly-named organizations. Though we have always been independent of one another, we’ve found common cause over the years on projects related to the Foundation’s Preserve, conservation-based publishing through Braided River, and more, which makes this conflict both confusing and unsettling for some people. As someone who has served leadership roles in both organizations, I hear the questions and understand the confusion.

The Foundation has always operated as an independent 501 (c)(3) and has raised funds as the Mountaineers Foundation since 1968. The Mountaineers only recently changed its tax exempt status in 2011, so it could start accepting charitable donations. Unfortunately, as The Mountaineers have developed a program to solicit charitable donations, they have started doing so with misleading statements and misuse of the Mountaineers Foundation’s registered mark.

We take very seriously the conservation-focused legacy we’ve built as the Mountaineers Foundation and the numerous bequests that make our ongoing work possible. In 2018, as we celebrated our 50-year milestone as a 501 (c)(3) organization, we updated our name to underscore our core values of conservation and connection. Keta is the Latin name for chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), which need healthy ecosystems from the mountains, through forests and streams, and throughout the marine environment. These natural systems also support communities of people with a vested interest in the health and wellbeing of all the residents of our region – people and wildlife. That’s why this simple word – keta – captures what we have done as an independent organization since 1968.

We are still the Mountaineers Foundation and still known as the Mountaineers Foundation, and that continues to be our legal name. We feel strongly that protecting our right to that name – and our ability to honor the intent of those who choose to give to our organization – is the right thing to do.

Our donors mean the world to us and we welcome the opportunity to answer questions. We are honored and privileged to have your support. We want you, our donors, to know that maintaining the integrity and the legacy of the Foundation is important, and we are working diligently to resolve the conflict as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Sincerely,

Mindy Roberts

Secretary and former President
Keta Legacy Foundation, also known as Mountaineers Foundation