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!

Arctic

Advocacy Action: Protect the Arctic

The Trump administration wants to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and fast. The Bureau of Land Management isn’t taking public emails to #ProtectTheArctic from oil and gas drilling, so we’re sending a handwritten letter to their mailbox today–who’s with us?

Why is this a big deal?

Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is risky and unnecessary—it violates the human rights of Indigenous peoples, will exacerbate climate change in an area that’s already deeply affected by climate impacts, and will cause irreversible destruction to a landscape.

The Gwich’in Nation consider the coastal plain sacred and have relied on the Porcupine Caribou Herd that migrates there for thousands of years for their primary food source and way of life. They rely on the herd for 80% of their diet.

Almost all of the coastal plain is designated as critical denning habitat for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act, where mother bears give birth and nurse their newborn cubs.

Even large financial institutions like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo have announced they will not fund any efforts to drill in the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge, which is sacred to the Gwich’in people. Even oil companies like BP have pulled out of Alaska and recognize the risk and are not supporting any oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge.

So, here’s the deal:

  • All letters must be postmarked by Thursday, December 10, 2020.
  • Send it to: State Director, BLM Alaska State Office, 222 West 7th Ave., MailStop 13, Anchorage, AK 99513-7504
  • Be sure to use the tract #s in your personal comments so BLM will capture your input. “Tracts #1 – 32” will work!
  • Head to the Sierra Club toolkit for writing tips (those reasons we listed above are great talking points to copy).
  • Stay tuned to orgs like Defend the Sacred Alaska, Native Movement, and Sierra Club to learn more.
  • Share your letters in your Instagram stories + feeds, and tag #ProtectTheArctic & #StandWithTheGwichin.
Trail sign

Breaking News: BLM Cancel Auction of 85,000 Acres of Public Land around Moab to Oil and Gas Development

BREAKING NEWS: We just received word that the Bureau of Land Management has officially cancelled the planned auction of 85,000 acres of public lands around Moab.

Because of YOU.

Remember when we launched a campaign with Public Lands Solutions to gather public comments about the impending lease of public land for oil and gas development?

Remember when over 35,000 outdoorists added their names to the petition through our #ProtectMoab campaign?

Your advocacy worked.
Your voice matters.
We were heard.

We’re proud of you, and celebrating this big win for Moab public lands—but there are still nine parcels around Utah going for auction, a reminder that we still have much work to do. For now though, we happy dance (and then we get right back to scheming our next moves in the fight for good).

30,000 Outdoorists Speak Up to #ProtectMoab Public Lands from Oil and Gas Leasing

Last month, we learned that over 114,000 acres of land in Utah are being proposed for an oil and gas leasing sale by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Over 80,000 of those acres are located around Moab, and this lease sale could have heavy impacts on recreation and sacred land. Our team at Outdoor Advocacy Project partnered with Public Land Solutions to create a social media campaign to gather signatures for a petition by outdoor users–to support their larger movement of local Moab city officials, businesses and other concerned citizens. Check out the social media toolkit here.

Within two weeks, we gathered over 30,000 petition signatures from folks like you who want to stop this leasing sale. Here’s the petition we sent in, which we’ll be delivering to Department of Interior Secretary Bernhardt and Utah Governor Herbert:

Click here to download the full 381-page petition and find your signature.

The official Bureau of Land Management comment period closed on July 9th, but our efforts to #ProtectMoab will continue as the September leasing sale draws closer. Join us and continue following along as we share next steps and ways you can.

A guide to getting outdoors responsibly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The New Guide to Getting Outdoors Responsibly

The global coronavirus pandemic has pulled outdoorists in nearly every direction–it’s hard to keep up. First, we stayed home and closed the parks. We camped in our backyards, started gardens, rediscovered the joy of neighborhood walks. We rallied together for a greater purpose–and your friends at Outdoor Advocacy Project are proud of how you showed up.

Now, the outdoors have begun to reopen. As some stay-at-home orders begin to lift, we are starting to venture back out there–but figuring out how to get outdoors responsibly and safely during the pandemic can feel like an overwhelming task.

That’s why we joined the Recreate Responsibly Coalition to launch #RecreateResponsibly, a set of six guidelines designed to help you get outdoors while protecting yourself, others, and the places you love. Check it out:

In addition to these guidelines, we have a few expanded thoughts on how outdoorists can best show up for our community right now:

  • Respect Indigenous communities and avoid traveling to or through. The Navajo Nation has more COVID-19 cases than nearly any other place in the U.S, and lacks many of the resources needed to protect their community. While we should absolutely not be traveling to Indigenous spaces, the boundaries of Native communities aren’t limited to reservations. Take your consideration a step further and consider that Navajo Nation President Nez penned this letter pleading for folks to avoid Grand Canyon area despite the park’s reopening.
  • Be a compassionate communicator and lead by example. First, be an open communicator. Set clear expectations with those you are interacting with, and be respectful of others who may be feeling more restrictive than you. On social media, continue to avoid shaming and call-outs, especially with people you don’t know personally –– these may feel satisfying for you, but unless you’re engaging in a conversation where you listen more than you lecture, just, don’t. Lead by example and. remember that #RecreateResponsibly is a set of guidelines, not a social media policing weapon.
  • Remember that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Yes, parks and recreation are opening back up–but we must remain and pragmatic when we make decisions. The pandemic isn’t over. Continue to lower risks and your adventure footprint as much as possible.
  • Be extra courteous to rural outdoor recreation communities. The folks in places like national park gateway towns and mountain towns are hurting right now. This pandemic has been an assault on their economy and small businesses. While it remains crucial that we minimize contact and are self-sufficient during outdoor outings, it’s also important to consider that these places are re-opening to tourism not just so you can play, but so they can start to rebuild. It’s complicated, but worth remembering to find ways to give back to these places and recreation communities.

When you choose to recreate responsibly, you are doing your part to keep yourself and others safe and healthy.  No one wants to see our parks, trails, and beaches re-closed, and we can all do our part to take care of each other and these places so we can maintain access. We all have a shared responsibility to care for these places and ensure they remain for future generations to enjoy. Lead by example and join us committing to #RecreateResponsibly this season.

Want to help spread the movement–especially as Memorial Day approaches? We built a toolkit with infographics, suggested posts and messaging, social media graphics, gifs and more to make it easy to share the stoke. And there’s a Spanish version too!

Toolkit in English: https://bit.ly/RRenglish
Toolkit en español: https://bit.ly/RRspanish

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

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 Advocate for Less-Glamorous Public Lands

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

There are some states that you may instinctively associate with the outdoors– California, Colorado, North Carolina, Utah to name a few. These places have majestic mountains, badass rock formations, the most amazing forests, or waterfalls that gush for days. In addition to their natural beauty, they have well-known and outspoken advocacy for their public lands.  

On the flip side, there are states where you have to look a bit harder. I realized this when I moved from Washington to Ohio. Friends teased me about moving to the flat state, once known for its river that caught on fire for being so polluted. Ohio, of course, has beautiful natural places and passionate advocates to match–you just need to know where to look. If you’re seeking spaces and resources in your state, here are some ways to start: 

Take some time to learn about your state & its public lands. 

It’s easy to start with places that people are in love with – because those are definitely the ones they will fight to protect. Social media will point you in the right direction. Beyond that, a quick internet search for “best natural spot in any state” or “best hiking” will return articles from Outdoor to Prevention Magazine. Once you know about your state’s favorite places, look into the lesser-known, hidden gems. Check out the state’s Department of Natural Resources or its State Parks list. Additionally, REI’s Co-Op Journal also has a series of articles grouped by region highlighting spaces, activities, and issues.   

Learn about the issues from national and state-level sources.

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) website is a good starting point, providing information at both the national and state-wide levels. Issues are listed, along with easy-to-consume, state-specific reports with quick facts (Number of Outdoor Recreation Jobs, Amount in Consumer Spending & more). With this knowledge in hand, you can then use their links to reach out to your legislators. Similarly, national non-profits like The Sierra Club & The Nature Conservancy have local chapters, which will connect you to issues and people in the community. Finally, seek out local environmental groups. Ohio’s Environmental Council, as an example, provides an Advocacy Toolkit which highlights weekly statehouse activities as well as provides tips on how to connect with lawmakers.  

Tap into or create grassroots efforts.

Beyond the organized efforts of a Sierra Club or Nature Conservancy, there are likely grassroots groups doing good things to protect public lands in your state. 

  • Check out Meetup.com, Facebook, or other groups/event listings to see what might be going on in your area. If there’s not an event scheduled, this could be your time to step up & get one organized. 
  • A rally, clean-up, or letter-writing campaign can all be useful ways to start small and mobilize your community. Check out the river clean-ups done by Hashtag 59 in Columbus Ohio as an example. 

Remember as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Here are a few resources so you can dive deeper: 

Rita Volpi
Rita Volpi

Rita Volpi is a midwesterner with a passion for the outdoors, traveling and a good donut. She splits her time between consulting, planning events for the two local movie theaters she owns with her husband and hanging out with her pup, Titan. Rita enjoys meeting other outdoorsy peeps through local clean-ups & serving on the board for Friends of the Columbus Metro Parks.  

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.

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.