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

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:

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.

Advocacy Updates: Oil + gas on public lands, Bears Ears, wildfires & more!

Salutations outdoorists, 

Remember last year, when we teamed up with Public Land Solutions to help stop oil and gas leasing near Moab, UT (and gathered over 36,000 signatures––and the lease sale got cancelled)? While that campaign was a victorious success, it wasn’t enough.

It’s time for oil and gas leasing reform on our public lands.

President Biden recently put a pause on all new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands, but that is a temporary halt giving the administration an opportunity to make major changes to the role fossil fuel exploration and extraction plays on our public lands.

Need scientific evidence on why we need oil and gas reform on public lands? This report recently released by Public Land Solutions details the ways inactive oil and gas wells are negatively impacting wildlife, recreation and rural communities. Here’s additional reading from Center for American Progress on why oil and gas + public lands = no bueno.

Outdoor Alliance has a letter-writing tool you can use to directly submit a comment to Interior’s comment portal––deadline is TOMORROW!

Note: Be sure personalize your message for the greatest impact––during Interior’s forum last month they specifically requested “quality over quantity” for these comments. Set a timer for 5 minutes and get personal with your comment! 

The comment period ends 4/15, but our work getting educated and activated on oil and gas reform is just getting started. More to come soon!

Other outdoorsy news you oughta know right now:

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!

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!

Bison in Yellowstone

When are National Park Service Fee Free Days in 2021?

Did you know that every year, the National Park Service designates multiple dates throughout the year where all national park sites are free to the public?

Here are the 2021 fee-free days at national parks:

  • January 18: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • April 17: First day of National Park Week
  • August 4: One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 25: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

Learn more here on the National Park Service official website.

Note: The entrance fee waiver for fee-free days does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.

Half Dome

When is National Public Lands Day 2021?

Started in 1994, National Public Lands Day “celebrates the connection between people and green space in their community, inspires environmental stewardship, and encourages use of open space for education, recreation, and health benefits.” (via NPS.gov) It is held the fourth Saturday of September each day.

National Public Lands Day is on September 25, 2021.

National Public Lands Day is the “largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands. It is also a free entrance day for most national parks, monuments, recreation areas and other participating federal sites,” according to the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Volunteer Events on National Public Lands Day can range from such activities as (source):

  • trail maintenance or new trail construction
  • campsite maintenance
  • removing trash or graffiti
  • habitat restoration projects
  • planting trees
  • removing invasive plants/weeds
  • river, lake, or shoreline cleanups
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!