Protect Monuments Now TOOLKIT

What’s Going On: The establishment of national monuments through the Antiquities Act has proven to be a key tool for protecting landscapes that benefit cultural resources, unique scientific objects, outdoor recreation, and regional economies.

Through The Antiquities Act, presidents have been able to protect hundreds of millions of acres of land that have significant cultural and historical significance. These presidential designated national monuments protect our public lands, air, water, wildlife, culturally and historically significant artifacts and sites. Furthermore, monuments help to support and grow local economies, tourism, and outdoor access. 

We appreciate President Biden taking action to restore protections to Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase-Escalante National monuments. 

Now, we look to President Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and to work with communities across the nation to protect more irreplaceable cultural places and public lands and waters, and fulfill the President’s pledge to protect 30% of U.S. lands, waters, and ocean by 2030, outlined in the America the Beautiful initiative.

How We’re Taking Action: We’ve teamed up with Hispanic Access Foundation to create a letter urging President Biden to act swiftly and use his authority to protect public lands. Join us and sign this letter thanking President Biden for restoring Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and urge him to protect more important landscapes through the Antiquities Act!

These are the key landscapes we hope to see protected:

Let’s use our voices to raise this issue, gather signatures, and reach the ears of the White House and Department of Interior. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Tiktok generation, it’s that it just takes one or two viral social moments to spread a message loud and clear. Using the exponential reach of social media platforms to protect public lands? That’s our idea of a good time. 

Here’s How You Can Join Us: 

  1. Sign the letter!
  2. Download and share the graphics.
  3. Share our post on the Outdoor Advocacy page in your story, or retweet us.
  4. Use this tracking link to encourage folks to sign (and share) the letter:
    1. https://bit.ly/ProtectMonumentsNow 
    2. Here are a few ideas for mediums you can share via:
      1. Instagram stories!
      2. Tweets
      3. In your newsletters.
      4. Holler at your group text. 
  5. Let’s collaborate. Want to host an IG Live to talk about this issue? Have national monuments content we should be amplifying? Let’s connect!

Resources:

Devils Postpile National Monument

What is the Antiquities Act?

The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President to designate federal lands (or waters) containing objects of historic, scenic, or scientific significance as national monuments, to prevent them from potential harm and provide permanent protection.

AKA: The Antiquities Act lets presidents make monuments!

Did you know?

  • The Antiquities Act was originally enacted to address issues with looting of cultural artifacts, particularly in the Southwest.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt was the first to designate national monuments – he created 18!
  • Only three presidents haven’t used the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments.
  • President Barack Obama protected over 500 million acres of public lands and waters using the Antiquities Act, the most protected via monument designation by any president.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by Backroad Packers on Unsplash

How does the Antiquities Act work?

  1. A landscape is identified by the local, Native or national community as a place that merits permanent protection for its natural, historical, or scientific resources.

2. Under the powers granted by the Antiquities Act, the President issues a unique proclamation designating that area as a National Monument.

3. The proclamation describes the specific resources and values embodied in the newly created Monument.

4. A management plan is created to assure that use of the area will match the stated values of the proclamation which created the new Monument.

Why does the Antiquities Act matter?

By empowering the president to create national monuments without Congress, the Antiquities Act provides one of our most valuable tools for protecting public lands when lands are threatened and Congress fails to act. In the United States, we lose a football field worth of natural area every 30 seconds to human development, affecting fresh water, clean air, and wildlife. Special places across the country are in urgent need of protection.

Sources

Created in collaboration with Outdoor Advocacy Project and Public Land Solutions.

What is a National Monument?

Public lands in the United States fall under many different types of protections and management. There are national parks, wilderness (and Wilderness), county parks, Tribal parks, state lands, and many more types of public lands. It can be confusing to keep track of it all, so today, we’re taking a look at national monuments!

So, what exactly is a National Monument?  

National monuments are permanently protected federal public lands for all people. This designation is given to landscapes and places of cultural, historic and scientific significance. There are currently 129 national monuments in the United States.

How are new national monuments established?

The Antiquities Act of 1906 grants the President authority to designate national monuments in order to protect “objects of historic or scientific interest.” While most national monuments are established by the President, Congress has also established national monuments to protect natural and historic features.

Colorado National Monument. Photo: Intricate Explorer

Fun facts about national monuments:

  • Monuments are managed by eight federal agencies, including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and even the US Air Force. Some are co-managed.
  • The first national monument was Devils Tower (aka Bear Lodge) in Wyoming, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in in 1906.
  • Some our most iconic national parks, like the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree, were first protected as national monuments.
  • Both Republican and Democratic presidents have used the Antiquities Act to create national monuments.

Why do national monuments matter to outdoorists? 

National monuments are a critical tool for protecting public lands and cultural resources. In addition to safeguarding landscapes, monuments provide recreation access for millions of outdoorists and boost local outdoor economies. Monuments are protected from fossil fuel extraction, and new management plans are written to accommodate visitors while protecting these outdoor places.

SOURCES:

Created in collaboration with Outdoor Advocacy Project and Public Lands Solutions

Coffee, Avocados, & Drought

Climate change solutions are commonly misconstrued in the environmental movement. When discussing climate change, we often talk vaguely about solutions with comments like: “Decreasing carbon emissions will help fight the climate crisis,” and “Preventing global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees celsius will conserve biodiversity.”

These phrases are true, but they imply that there is some mysterious silver bullet solution out there that will save humanity, and all the trees, and the cute little crag dogs, and the wildflowers–but there isn’t. 

There just isn’t a single solution for climate change. 

The same goes for drought, which is a big tangled mess in climate change’s knitting basket. This is because water use is so much more complicated than the amount of water flowing out of your faucet. As individuals, we use relatively small quantities of water, but we also use electricity created by thermoelectric power, eat food (like and 🥑) that needs to be irrigated, and scroll on phones that require mined metal. 

There is no possible way for one solution to unravel all of the deeply intertwined drought-associated problems. Instead, drought prevention requires a multitude of holistic solutions. 

So, what drought solutions are you most passionate about?

📚 Information Compiled by: @funkyfrances and @savadkinscroft

🎨 Graphics by: @savadkinscroft

How Drought Affects Wildfires

The next chapter of our drought series is here: let’s talk about drought and wildfires. 🔥

Remember when Smokey Bear was SUPER popular? Like, the level of popularity where you couldn’t go outside without seeing an excessively buff bear telling you that it was your job to prevent wildfires?

Smokey Bear has a more low-key presence these days, and there’s a reason for that: As fire science progresses and fire history is explored, we’re realizing that fire isn’t always bad. And more often than not, it’s actually really good for ecosystems to experience fire.

Take lodgepole pines for example, which can be found all over the western United States. These iconic pines have serontinous cones, which means, in order for the cones to release their seeds, they first need to be burned by fire. Simply put, these trees couldn’t have babies without fire!

Fire benefits more than just lodgepole pines, and we could list the benefits of fire forever and ever. But fire has become A LOT more complicated now that our drought situation is so severe and because humans cause so many fires (not just through pyrotechnic gender reveals, but also through campfires, cigarettes, and more).

If we could sum up current wildfire science into a few words, it would be: natural fires are good and have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years, human caused fires quickly get out of control, we should have let landscapes burn over the past 100 years, drought is making fires worse, and we need to create systemic change to our fire mitigation practices asap.

📚 Information Compiled by: @stephanie_landry_giavotella and @savadkinscroft
🎨 Graphics by: @savadkinscroft
📸 Photo: Frankie Lopez

Advocacy Updates: Happy National Forest Week and Latino Conservation Week!

It’s been a bit quiet around here.

This season, the OAP team has been taking our efforts off our feeds, focused on investing our energy into the movements, relationships, and initiatives that matter most to us.

We’ve been getting the word out about preventing wildfires with the Recreate Responsibly Coalition, scheming on monumental campaigns with Public Lands Solutions, gearing up for Hike United in August, cranking on sustainability projects, and we’ve teamed up with climate scientists to drop a new education series on drought. 

Advocacy is about more than just social media graphics. A bit ironic from us, we know, but it’s the truth. We’ll still be making Instagrammable infographics about public lands policy for the foreseeable future, but the magic of graphics is just one tool in the box of tactics we can all use to make an impact on the issues we love. 

We’re proud of the community that’s shown up to learn, get empowered, and take action––and we’re stoked to take what we’ve built together and sharpen the rest of our advocacy toolbox to create a more impactful + effective movement. 

So what’s next as we continue to pursue an outdoor culture that scrolls less and does more? We learn and listen more, we give and support more, and we go IRL to invest in each other more. 

Here are a few places to start and other outdoorsy stuff you oughta know about:

  • It’s National Forest Week! (July 12-18) Our friends at National Forest Foundation have virtual events, a photo contest, and tools to help anyone organize a self-guided clean up day!

  • Next Monday, Latino Conservation Week kicks off. (July 17-25) No matter where you live, check out their events page for information about group hikes, nature education, advocacy trainings, community building opportunities and more.

  • Outdoor Alliance is hosting a panel about the Outdoor F.U.T.U.R.E. initiative (a national outdoor equity fund that builds on two programs developed in NM and CA) on July 20th. Register here!

  • Brown Girls Climb needs your support to help bring their vision of a more equitable, inclusive, reimaged marketplace to life. Give to their fundraiser here.

  • Hike United 2021 is just two weeks away! Learn more about the movement and get signed up to join or host a hike here

  • ICYMI: The Outdoors 4 All and Transit-to-Trails Acts got passed through the House via the INVEST Act last week. Here’s a great thread from Sierra Club about it. Stay tuned for upcoming outreach opportunities!

  • We are stoked about a new podcast, The Trail Ahead, hosted by Faith E. Briggs and Addie Thompson, that digs into “uncomfortable and essential conversations at the intersection of environment, race, history and culture.”

Phew, that’s it for this week. Stay tuned as we continue dropping our new drought series with climate scientists from Utah State University through the upcoming weeks!

What is a watershed (and what makes a healthy one)?

Written by Kelly Loria
Cover image by Michael Browning

Take a step outside and look around–you are currently in a watershed. Since water follows the path of least resistance as it ebbs downward from high to low areas, a watershed is any land that drains water or snow into a body of water like a stream, river, wetland, or lake.

Watersheds are defined by topographic features like mountains, and can refer to very large (like really, really big) stretches of land. For example, the Mississippi River is one of the largest watersheds within the Continental U.S. and receives water from 33 states.

Because watersheds can span across vast landscapes, water is often dirtied by feedlots, enriched with fertilizers, and contaminated by oils, trash, and anything else it can carry–which is a problem because this water becomes our drinking water, shower water, and toilet water, all of which have the potential to affect our health.

Therefore, it’s super important to keep watersheds clean–but how do we know if a watershed is healthy enough to provide clean water? The answer: a list of healthy watershed characteristics created by the Environmental Protection Agency:

  1. “Dynamic hydrologic and geomorphologic processes within their natural range of variation.” 

    At first this sounds like gibberish, but broken down, it means a little something like this: Aquatic environments evolved to handle seasonal patterns of precipitation. This means that aquatic ecosystems need small, regular floods that submerge riverside floodplains to create sandbars, channels, and diverse aquatic habitats, which provide valuable nutrients for organisms and vegetation. For a watershed to remain ecologically intact so that it can provide economically valuable commodities and services to us hooomans, it needs to receive enough water and at the right times. Once this happens, we can extract water for our own needs without causing too much harm to the watershed. 

  1. “Habitat of sufficient size and connectivity to support native aquatic and riparian species.”

    When we build dams or water diversions, we block aquatic species from traveling around as much as they once did. This is called habitat fragmentation, which makes it challenging for certain species to find food and mates, or for migratory species to find places to rest and feed along their routes. Modern updates to aquatic infrastructure, such as fish ladders that connect rivers to reservoirs with water steps, can help mediate some of this fragmentation and facilitate aquatic species travel.

  1. “Physical and chemical water quality conditions able to support healthy biological communities.”

    Water quality is assessed based on both its chemistry (i.e. how much nitrogen is in the water) and physical features (i.e. temperature). The level to which water quality is monitored and enforced varies state by state, which means that states can have a regulatory standard that is lower than what is best for maintaining healthy aquatic life. This is important because whatever happens upstream–like fertilizer use–can have really harmful impacts on aquatic ecosystems in downstream. 

What happens upstream matters. When aquatic systems receive high concentrations of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, it can cause rapid growth of algae (HABs aka Harmful Algal Blooms). Algae exists in all aquatic environments, but when they come in contact with nitrogen and phosphorus from outside of their natural habitats (like from fertilizers) they grow and grow and grow some more. When the algae eventually dies, the process of breaking down the huge amount of dead algae lowers the amount of oxygen available for other aquatic life, resulting in poor water quality. This is a huge problem for the Mississippi because it has 33 states worth of agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus to pick up before it pours into the Gulf of Mexico, which causes the infamous dead zone.  

Watersheds are very cool and are the whole reason we have water–but, not every watershed meets these EPA standards, resulting in contaminated water. That’s where you, me, and all of our friends come in. It’s our job to advocate for clean water. So, like always, contact them reps, baby!

Sources:

Drought in the Intermountain West

With record-breaking drought conditions spread across California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and beyond, the idea of a “hot girl summer” has taken on a new meaning in the Mountain West this year.

But what exactly is drought, and why does it matter to outdoorists (and everyone)?

Drought, in its simplest definition, is the lack of precipitation, which leads to depleted water supplies. At its worst, drought can last for decades and the lack of water can affect food availability, water quality, biodiversity, wildfire risk, livestock and fisheries health, the economy, human physical and mental health, job security, recreation, and oh so much more.

The intermountain west has been hit exceptionally hard by long-term drought. Since 2000 (that’s right—this drought can legally drink, y’all!), landscapes spanning from the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain Ranges have been plagued with wildfires, municipal water restrictions, and conflicts over water rights. This summer, the western United States is projected to once again be hot and dry, further straining our already limited water supply.

We’re diving into the science, sociology, and policy of drought over the next few weeks with the help of climate scientists, but we also want this to be a community discussion. So, we want to know:

How has drought affected you?

Research and graphic design by: @savadkinscroft
Photography: Jana Styblova
Map: via US Drought Monitor

Recreate Responsibly: Wildfire Edition

It’s the start of a big weekend for the outdoors. We just read that Zion National Park is expecting more than 85,000 visitors this weekend–whoa. As you settle in for a road trip to your favorite campsite, get educated on your responsibility to prevent wildfires.

The @recreate.responsibly coalition partnered with the National Interagency Fire Center to launch our Wildfire edition of the #RecreateResponsibly guidelines. Read ‘em, learn ‘em, share ‘em, and put these principles to practice outdoors:

🔥 Know Before You Go: Know how to prevent wildfires by properly using outdoor equipment, learning campfire safety, and checking for fire restrictions and closures.

🔥 Practice Physical Distancing: Give people space—it’s critical to not crowd firefighting efforts. Wildfires are no-drone-zones.

🔥 Plan Ahead: Know what fire restrictions are in place at your destination, and check if campfires, barbecues, and flammables are allowed.

🔥 Play it Safe: From fireworks to camp stoves, understand the potentially explosive nature of your toys and tools and that some of these may be restricted in your location.

🔥 Explore Locally: Impacts from wildfire can change your travel plans. Have a back-up plan, like close-to-home gems that you have yet to explore.

🔥 Leave No Trace: Keep your campfire small, ensure that it’s out completely and cold to the touch prior to leaving or going to sleep.

🔥 Build an Inclusive Outdoors: Everyone experiences the outdoors differently, and we can work together to keep our communities safe.

Head to http://recreateresponsibly.org to learn more about how you can #RecreateResponsibly this weekend, all summer, and through every season outdoors.

AANHPI Heritage Month, but Make it Outdoorsy

This May, we’re celebrating Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and we want to use this opportunity to highlight the issues, work, and joy within the community in hopes to educate and move towards a more loving and welcoming future. 

The AANHPI community has been targeted and attacked in a string of violent, hate crimes across many cities, and the outdoors are no exception. The community has experienced racism like many communities of color in America and have endured years and years of internal and intergenerational trauma. Finally, they’re being seen and heard, and taking up space for themselves. 

Dive in below to get started with articles, films, books, podcasts, social media and more spotlighting Asian outdoorists and how we can be better community allies. Resources curated by Vivian Wang: 

AANHPI HISTORY AND CULTURE ARTICLES:

BOOKS TO READ:

WATCH + LISTEN: 

ORGS TO KNOW:

Just like our Black History Month article, these resources are a mere starting point for learning and unlearning the past, present, and future of the AANHPI community in the outdoors and beyond. If you’ve got a AANHPI History Month resource we’re missing, send it to us and we’ll add it to the growing list!