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. 

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. 

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

How to be an Advocate for Your State Parks

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash

While when you think of the words “public lands,” “wilderness”, and the “great outdoors”- images of grand landscapes, romantic ideas of old-timey family photos in front of giant stone formations, or someone on Instagram living out of a van enjoying a quiet sunset with their dog rambling around the wilderness around them, enjoying a beer, taking it all in. Maybe you think of Zion, Arches, Redwoods, Acadia.  

But what is the last natural place you’ve visited? The last trail you’ve been on, the mountain you’ve climbed? 

It probably wasn’t something you had to fly many miles to get to, months planning around, or investing a lot of time, energy, and thought to get you there. It was most likely a place a little more accessible, something out your backdoor. Maybe a local or state park?  

I am privileged to live in the Adirondacks, which is the largest park in the contiguous United States. I work for the Adirondack Council, an advocacy organization that fights to preserve the clean water, air, and wildlands of our Park.  

I try my hardest to get a weekly dose of nature, and I’m sure you might too. And for me, that happens not in a national park, but in my state park. While there are many reasons to advocate for our most famous national landscapes, our state parks are important to fight for. To protect as wild places for us all to enjoy, but also to provide safe havens for wildlife, to act as filters for clean water and air, a sponge for CO2 to slow climate change- a place for trees, wildflowers, and nature to thrive.  

Why Advocating for our State Parks is Important 

  • More people use state lands- 792 million people visit state lands each year, while only 331 million people visit National Parks, and 148 million people visit US Forests each year. Advocating for state lands means advocating for your fellow state land users and the wildlife that live there, the clean water and air that filters through the forests, and the many other benefits they bring.  
  • State lands add up– It’s estimated there are 8,565 state park areas comprising 18,694,570 acres across the U.S. While many of the greatest National Parks and Forests are some of the most famous landscapes, state parks cover millions of acres of land in the United States. The Adirondack Park, for example, covers one-fifth of New York State and is nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park.  
  • Opportunity to impact change- With more and more public land rights being stripped away at a federal level, leaders at state and local levels may be more willing to preserve our precious wild places for future generations. And while the Trump Administration strips away the rights from federal lands, we can and should continue to grow locally protected wilderness areas and opportunities for everyone to enjoy them.  

Infographic courtesy of Outdoor Industry Association from REI.com 

HOW to Advocate for your Parks & Environmental Protection at the State Level 

  • Join a local/state advocacy organization- They will have the best understanding of local environmental issues and problems facing your state parks. Donate, attend meetups or events, sign up to learn more about advocacy opportunities, etc.  
  • Know what’s in your state budget (and what’s not)- The success and well-being of your state parks are determined by the funding allocated to the staffing, programs, and support that makes sustaining those wildlands possible. Learn how legislators determine how to include specific programs in a state budget, and how you can help advocate for your public lands and environmental protection programs on a state level. 
  • Engage in public comment opportunities– When a budget, policy, or law is changed or created, your state is required to offer a public comment opportunity. This is your chance to make your voice heard. Sign up for email notifications for public comment opportunities from your state.  
  • Make sure your Representatives know what is important to you- It’s their responsibility to represent the values of their constituents. Attend their coffee hours and events that are opportunities for public engagement. Respond to their questions and posts on social media and tag them in thoughtful posts of your own.  

By advocating for your local wildlands and participating in the process on a state level, you’re making sure your representatives and people who can create change in your community know what important issues are facing our generation.  

While traveling to knock on doors in Washington DC isn’t something that everyone feels like they can do, we can all help protect our wild places by showing up and participating in the opportunities for public engagement in state-level decision-making that impacts the mountains, lakes, and wild places we love.  

Resources

  • Patagonia Action Works– Find petitions, letter-writing opportunities, local organizations to join and support 

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.

Mary Godnick
Mary Godnick

Mary works as a Marketing and Development Assistant at Adirondack Council in New York.


person hiking

When is National Trails Day 2020?

National Trails Day is June 6, 2020.

According to the American Hiking Society, “Taking place on the first Saturday in June, National Trails Day® is a day of public events aimed at advocacy and trail service. Thousands of hikers, bikers, rowers, horseback riders, trail clubs, federal and local agencies, land trusts, and businesses come together in partnership to advocate for, maintain, and clean up public lands and trails.”

You can register a trail event for National Trails Day–and even get empowered to invite your local reps to join you–via the National Recreation and Park Association here.

Official registration for 2020 events begins February 2020.