What is Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus?

If the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act sounds familiar–it’s because you’ve heard of this public lands policy package before. Last year, the outdoor community advocated hard for the first iteration of then-called PAWA, a group of six bills that promised to protect 1.3 million acres of public lands and more than 1200 river miles. Unfortunately, PAWA fell short in 2020–but now in 2021 it’s back, better, and in need of your support.

What is Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus? This newly introduced package now includes eight bills:

This will be the first major public lands/outdoor related vote of this new Congress, and the first vote happens in the House on Wednesday 9/24/21. It is imperative that outdoorists raise our voices on this issue to set the stage for protecting public lands and prioritizing the health of our environment during this new Congress.

Here’s two ways to take action:

  1. Tell your lawmakers to pass these public land protections using Outdoor Alliance’s FastAction tool here. Outdoor Alliance also has excellent resources and context to learn more about PAW+.
  2. Use American Alpine Club’s Phone2Action letter writing tool to write your reps here.

Why is it so important to take action right now? We’ll leave you with these words from our friends at Outdoor Alliance: “It’s incredibly important that the outdoor community shows up in force to support these efforts. Our support now not only promises to protect important outdoor landscapes, but also greases the skids for future protections. For new members of Congress especially, these early votes are a litmus test for public lands issues. Lawmakers need to hear right off the bat that their voters are enthusiastic about conservation and the outdoors – let’s make this public lands package the beginning, not the end, of what we accomplish together this Congress.”

Have any resources on PAW+ we’re missing? Send us an e-mail at team@outdooradvocacy.com. and we’ll add ’em to this post!

Confirmation hearing set for Interior Secretary Nominee Deb Haaland

Big news, outdoorists! The confirmation hearing for Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland has officially been set by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for February 23rd at 9:30 AM (Eastern). Learn more about the news here via Indian Country Today, and catch up on our past post about Haaland’s nomination here.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Outdoor Advocacy Project (@outdooradvocacy)

Wondering what this confirmation hearing means, or how the Cabinet works? Did that last question confuse you even more? We’ve got you covered: check out this resource about the confirmation process.

We recently joined Wilderness Society and nearly 500 outdoor and environmental organizations in a letter supporting this historic nomination. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

“If confirmed, Rep. Haaland would be the first Native American to lead the Department and the first Native American Cabinet Secretary in our nation’s history.

As Vice Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and Chair of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee, Rep. Haaland is a proven leader and the right person to lead the charge against the existential threats of our time – tackling the climate, biodiversity, extinction and COVID-19 crises, and racial justice inequities on our Federal public lands and waters.

The Department of the Interior is responsible for managing 500 million acres of our shared public lands, waters, wildlife, and natural resources, as well as offshore energy and mineral resources. The department is also responsible for upholding the Federal government’s treaty and trust responsibilities to Native American tribes, including managing more than 55 million acres of lands held in trust for Native Americans by the government.

Over the last four years alone, the previous administration routinely neglected to properly consult tribal governments before proceeding with fossil fuel development projects, land management plans, lease sales, and rulemakings that degraded air and water quality across the nation.

Given DOI’s track record of failing to consult with Tribes or engage with Indigenous communities while enacting public lands policies against the better interests of Indigenous people, Rep. Haaland’s confirmation would be both an historic and much-needed step toward reckoning with a long and troubling legacy while building new, lasting, equitable achievements.”

Read the full Haaland Community Support Letter here.

Advocates, get ready to take action in support of Haaland’s nomination. She is already receiving pushback for her strong stances against the oil and gas industry, so call your reps to voice your support and stay tuned for further action items–and as always, we’ll keep you updated with any new developments.

What do today’s Conservation + Climate Announcements mean for outdoorists?

Today was a big day for climate and conservation in the United States. President Biden signed a series of new policies aimed at tackling climate change. From committing to 30×30 to replacing federal fleets with zero emission vehicles, there’s a lot to digest.

We encourage you to read the “FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government” in full, but if you’re itching to dive straight to the more outdoor-related bits, we’ve pulled ’em for you to make it easier to understand.

Excerpts below are from the Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad Executive Order: 

  • “directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.”
  • “directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure.”
  • “commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation.”
     
  • “calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.”
  • “reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021.”

We are thrilled with today’s actions, but acknowledge that all these positive initiatives and commitments must be met with accountability and follow-through. As we shift our advocacy towards more proactive efforts, we must continue to resolve ourselves to remain vigilante that good policy is not just signed, but put into action.

Here are a few resources from around the outdoor community for more information on today’s big announcements:

Stay tuned with Outdoor Advocacy Project on Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates!

Advocacy Updates: Today is a New Beginning

Outdoorists, today is a new beginning.

The last OAP newsletter was intended to hit your inbox two weeks ago, on January 6th––and every day since then, we’ve opened up the draft, stared at it, attempted to focus, and ended up in a fury of doomscrolling instead. Today, as our country prepares to officially inaugurate our next President today, we’re committing to hitting send and moving towards good changes ahead. 

As the first weeks of 2021 have shown us, we are not out of the woods––we are still deep in it––but the transition of power today is a major fork in the trail, pointing us towards a brighter tomorrow. It’s going to take all of us, and everything we’ve got within, to get through this time and to move forward. We can do this, together.

Amidst the chaotic news cycles of the last few weeks (and months? and entire last year?), a lot has happened in the outdoor and environmental spaces––and as we step into a new era for outdoor advocacy, we want you to feel informed, empowered and ready to take action.

Outdoorsy news you oughta know right now––this week is a doozy, lace up your boots:

Phew, that’s a lot–and a wrap for this week. Stay safe out there, and take extra care of yourself + the community around you. Don’t let this moment pass without taking a pause to reflect on how hard you’ve worked the last four years, and how much more work we have ahead. We’re proud of you.

Got the beta on an outdoor advocacy issue, event, or rad content we ought to know about? Give us the scoop: team@outdooradvocacy.com – we want to hear from you and amplify your nooks of advocacy + the outdoors!


Every other week, we give you a download on the latest outdoor advocacy and community happenings – sign up for the e-mail newsletter or subscribe below and never miss another Advocacy Update when it drops!

Deb Haaland

Advocacy Updates: Meet the Woman In Charge of Public Lands

Outdoorists, we finally have something to be merry and bright about.

Meet your (soon-to-be) next Secretary of the Interior: Deb Haaland.

After much speculation about who would be the next leader of our nation’s federal parks, public lands, natural resources and more, President-elect Biden named Congresswoman Deb Haaland as his choice for the most outdoorsy Cabinet position. Haaland makes history as the first Native American to serve in a Presidential Cabinet.

Not sure exactly what a Secretary of Interior does? In their own words, the Interior’s job is to “uses sound science to manage and sustain America’s lands, water, wildlife, and energy resources, honors our nation’s responsibilities to tribal nations, and advocates for America’s island communities.”

We are stoked about this news, and look forward to working with Rep. Haaland and the Biden administration to not only reverse the damage done during the current administration, but to forge progress ahead in protecting our public lands and focusing on the intersections of climate change, social justice, biodiversity and our communities.

Other outdoorsy things you ought know:

That’s a wrap for this week. However you’re celebrating the holidays this season, we hope you get out there (safely and Recreate Responsibly), and tag us as you do good on your outdoorsy adventures: #outdooradvocacy!

Got the beta on an outdoor advocacy issue, event, or rad content we ought to know about? Give us the scoop: team@outdooradvocacy.com – we want to hear from you and amplify your nooks of advocacy + the outdoors!


Every other week, we give you a download on the latest outdoor advocacy and community happenings – sign up for the e-mail newsletter or subscribe below and never miss another Advocacy Update when it drops!

Vote the Outdoors Plan

How To #VotetheOutdoors

Registering to vote is just the first step to fulfilling your duty as an outdoorist to #VoteTheOutdoors––do you have a voter plan yet? With so many different deadlines and paths towards casting a ballot, it’s crucial to make a plan that works best for you.

Step one: REGISTER. Check your registration status, make sure all your information is up to date, and be aware of local deadlines.

Step two: CHOOSE HOW YOU’LL VOTE. Will you vote by mail or in-person? Will you vote early or on Election Day? Figure out the method of voting that works best for you and your lifestyle. Request your ballot or find your local polling place.

Step three: RESEARCH YOUR BALLOT. Get to know the candidates, key races and ballot initiatives. Check out Outdoor Industry’s OIA Voters Guide to get started.

Step four: TELL A FRIEND. Commit to vote, and invite your friends, family, climbing partners, campmates and co-workers to make a plan too.

Advocacy Updates: Meet the Great American Outdoors Act

We have good news, outdoor advocates!

Outdoorists–and the world at large–could really use some good news right about now. You’ve likely heard the ruckus around Trump’s tweet about finally fully funding LWCF (despite his budget proposal that cuts funding by 97%). We’re giving this shady behavior a pass, because while these actions are clearly driven by the upcoming elections, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to fund our public lands and parks.

Here’s the deal: with the sudden push for Land and Water Conservation Fund full funding, another public lands bill swooped into the mix: the Restore Our Parks Act (ROPA). This bill is all about addressing the $20 billion in deferred maintenance for our national parks–but NPS parks aren’t the only public lands with a backlog, so advocacy groups rallied to get funding for National Forests, BLM, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Education included too. And we succeeded!

This leads us to the Great American Outdoors Act–the new package including both permanent funding for LWCF and funding for ROPA. There is strong bipartisan support for the Great American Outdoors Act, but we need to keep the pressure on our senators to support and push it across the finish line.

What can you do? Get educated and take action via our friends at Outdoor Alliance.

Other outdoorsy things you ought to know:

That’s a wrap for this week. Get out there this week, and tag us as you do good on your outdoorsy adventures: #outdooradvocacy!

Got the beta on an outdoor advocacy issue, event, or rad content we ought to know about? Give us the scoop: team@outdooradvocacy.com – we want to hear from you and amplify your nooks of advocacy + the outdoors!


Every other week, we give you a download on the latest outdoor advocacy and community happenings – sign up for the e-mail newsletter or subscribe below and never miss another Advocacy Update when it drops!

How to Register to Vote and Check Your Voter Status

The outdoor community is responsible to act – on climate, to protect public lands, and so much more. One of the best and most impactful ways to take action is: VOTING!

Democracy isn’t a spectator sport; it only works if we participate.

As individuals, we must register and participate in our civic duty during elections. As businesses, we must support our employees and consumers in exercising their right to vote. As a community, we must hold ourselves accountable and capable of facilitating climate action through voting.

Register to vote below via Vote.gov, or click here to check your voter registration status.

Protecting the Roadless Rule: Alaska’s Tongass National Forest Under Pressure

Just getting started on the Roadless Rule? Learn the basics about what the Roadless Rule is here.

The Roadless Rule protects roughly 58.8 million acres of roadless areas on different National Forests across the country. Around 9 million acres of those protected lands reside in the Tongass National Forest, America’s largest forest, and in combination with the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, the Tongass is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest.

Photo: Sam Ortiz

Homeland of the Tlingit and Haida people, this unique landscape is described by the Audubon Society as being filled with “glacial fjords, streams, lush valleys, mountains, and some of the oldest, most valuable, trees in the world.”

It is home to “an abundance” of fish and wildlife including “including all five species of Pacific salmon, brown (grizzly) bears, wolves, Bald Eagles, Northern Goshawks,” and many more valuable species. Throughout the last century, economic growth in Alaska came about from the logging industry which is evident when considering how logging has altered the Tongass. 9% of productive old-growth forests have been clearcut, and about half of the “big-tree old growth” have been cut. 

Map of Tongass National Forest Roadless + Recreation Areas (Outdoor Alliance)

In collaboration with the powerful timber lobby, the current administration threatens to continue the devastation of the Tongass’ old-growth forests by allowing the Forest to undermine the Roadless Rule and exempt the Tongass from its protections in order to allow more freedoms to logging. Currently, the Tongass still allows large scale clear cut logging of old-growth forests in certain areas of the forest. According to the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), in 2015, 6,000 acres of forest were logged in a timber sale. Not only is this practice outdated and harmful to the ecosystem, but the logging is also done at a loss to American taxpayers. The SEACC states that it is estimated that taxpayers subsidize the Tongass timber program “to the tune of $20 million per year” and is contributing to “less than 1%” of the local Alaskan economy. Recreation, on the other hand, generates $7.3 billion and sustains more than four times the number of jobs in Alaska than oil and gas production, mining, and logging combined, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Where are we now and how can I take action?

Currently, the proposal from the US Forest Service is undergoing the NEPA process. Thanks to that process, the Forest Service is required to hear comments from the public regarding what they think about the project. This comment period is open until December 17, 2019, and the Outdoor Alliance recommends asking the Forest Service to support the “no action alternative” in order to keep the Roadless Rule alive on the Tongass National Forest.

Use Outdoor Alliances’s letter writing tool–it only takes 30 seconds to make your voice heard.

Sign up for a virtual roadless rule public comment workshop with Last Stands on 12/15.

Resources: 

Watch:

NOTE: THIS IS A LIVING RESOURCE! As with all resources on Outdoor Advocacy Project, there is always room to continue the conversation, add a new perspective, bolster the resources, and share new findings. Got something you want to add, change, challenge or amplify? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail team@outdooradvocacy.com to write your own.

Amelia Howe
Amelia Howe

Amelia Howe is an environmental advocacy and policy professional based in Salt Lake City. She analyzes complex legislation, creating digestible summaries that inspire thoughtful engagement. Coffee and climbing fill her time when she isn’t nerding out over the latest policy news. 

What is the Roadless Rule?

The Roadless Rule has worked in favor of conservationists since 2001. According to the US Forest Service definition of the rule, it was intended to “provide lasting protection for inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest System.”

Image: Sam Ortiz

The rule protects roughly 58.5 million acres of roadless areas, ensuring that wild and undeveloped forests are safe from future development. There are many benefits to having large expanses of land that are undisturbed or unfragmented by human development. One benefit is that this undeveloped land can be utilized for various forms of human-powered recreation. In addition to the outdoor recreation perks, these lands protect many valuable ecosystem services like animal and plant biodiversity, clean air, fresh water, and even aid in climate stability through carbon capture and storage. 

Here’s a great infographic on the roadless rule and how it affects recreation via Outdoor Alliance– head to their website for an interactive map of Roadless areas in the US:


Where are we now and how can I take action?

Both Alaska and Utah are attempting to change or roll back roadless protections of National Forest Lands in their states. As soon as one state decides it is a good idea to create a state-specific Roadless Rule, it can be expected that many other states will follow suit. This is a slippery slope when it comes to conservation and protecting recreation spaces nationwide. Let’s look a bit further into what Utah and Alaska are proposing:

Utah: 

  • Utah is a fierce proponent of local control over public lands, so it was no surprise that the state petitioned the Forest Service to create a “Utah-specific Roadless Rule” in order to roll back protections on forests under the Roadless Rule.
  • Approximately 50% of Utah’s Forests are designated as “Roadless”
  • According to Outdoor Alliance: 9% of Inventoried Roadless Areas would be released from protections entirely, 79% would have protections from logging drastically reduced, and only 12% of existing areas would retain current protection, 0% would be given heightened protections.
  • The petition is vague, unspecific, and there is no site-specific analysis.
  • In response to a report published by Defenders of Wildlife, the organization’s Director of Federal Lands said it showed “how shortsighted it would be to accept the state’s proposal to sacrifice millions of acres of intact habitat and healthy watersheds for more logging and roadbuilding. Utah’s national forest roadless areas, like roadless areas across the National Forest System, are sanctuaries for fish and wildlife as well as magnets for human recreation.”

Sign the petition to protect Utah’s backcountry forests through Outdoor Alliance’s easy-to-use letter writing tool.

Alaska:

Tongass National Forest in Alaska. Photo: Sam Ortiz
  • Alaska is home to one of the largest coastal temperate rainforests, some of the world’s oldest trees, and a long history of logging
  • More than half of the Tongass’ 17 million acres of land are protected by the Roadless Rule
  • With the support of a powerful timber lobby, Alaska is hoping to release 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest for logging through an exemption of the Roadless Rule

Defend the Roadless Rule and the Tongass National Forest through the Outdoor Alliance easy-to-use letter writing tool: Comment by December 17, 2019.


Resources:

NOTE: THIS IS A LIVING RESOURCE! As with all resources on Outdoor Advocacy Project, there is always room to continue the conversation, add a new perspective, bolster the resources, and share new findings. Got something you want to add, change, challenge or amplify? Let us know in the comments, or e-mail team@outdooradvocacy.com to write your own.

Amelia Howe
Amelia Howe

Amelia Howe is an environmental advocacy and policy professional based in Salt Lake City. She analyzes complex legislation, creating digestible summaries that inspire thoughtful engagement. Coffee and climbing fill her time when she isn’t nerding out over the latest policy news.