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
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:

Outdoor Advocacy Climate Action Toolkit 2020

The outdoor community is directly impacted by the climate crisis. We are some of the first to see its effects. Current climate projections indicate that many US ski seasons will be cut in half by 2050, but rising global temperatures are affecting more than just our public lands, air quality, our water and snowpack–the livelihood of entire communities is on the line.

Climate change not just an outdoor issue, it is the largest social justice issue of our lifetime.

Environmental advocacy is a value built into the outdoor ethos, and we must continue to push ourselves to do and demand more of ourselves and the industry at large. The threats we face are unprecedented–we can’t continue business as usual. The future viability of our entire industry and planet is on the line, will we show up to do something about it?

Developed in collaboration with Big Mountain Dreams Foundation

We believe that we have a responsibility to act on climate. That’s why we co-organized Climate Rally 2020, a march and rally at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on January 31. Alongside organizer Caroline Gleich and a community of climate leaders, we fired up the outdoor industry during Outdoor Retailer, and asked ourselves to commit to stronger, more intersectional climate action.

But the action doesn’t stop once we put down our signs and end our chants. We must continually be moving forward as advocates for climate justice–which is why we created the Outdoor Advocacy Climate Action Toolkit 2020. This collection of educational resources, collective action and tools will get you started and keep you going as a climate activist. Here’s a peek at what you’ll find here–and we’ll continue adding resources throughout the year:

  • Resources like Climate Science 101 and How to Talk to Your Family about Climate Change.
  • An outdoor industry and community sign-on letter for brands, organizations and individuals.
  • Voter registration and resources.

Sign the outdoor industry + community climate action letter

(read the sign-on letter here.)

Get registered to vote or check your voter status

(click here)

Learn the basics of climate science

(from climate scientists)

Explore the climate change glossary

(every term from anthropogenic to sustainability)

See what science says we can do about climate change

(again, written by, you know, climate scientists)

Learn how climate change affects more than just the weather

(click here)

How to talk to climate skeptics – and understanding who they are

(click here)

Learn how to talk to your family about climate change

(during the holidays or any time of year)

ED-OP: How to stay resilient + hopeful during a time of climate crisis

(click here)

If you own or work for an outdoor brand, check out OIA’s Climate Action Corps

(check it out here)

Additional Resources:

If you made it this far, we’re stoked on your commitment to climate action–high five! We look forward to continuing to expand this toolkit and add even more resources from around our community. If you’ve got a climate-related resource or tool we ought to be amplifying, shoot us an e-mail at team@outdooradvocacy.com.

How to Talk to Climate Skeptics – and Understanding Who They Are

It feels really good to have people agree with you. In fact, it feels so good that we tend to only surround ourselves with people who have the same viewpoints as us. But when we come across someone who doesn’t agree with us, our natural instinct is to become immediately defensive and double down on our own opinions. It’s challenging to have conversations outside of our comfortable social bubbles, but to fight climate change, we need support from more than just the people who look like us and talk like us. In this article, we hope to provide you with a better understanding of why people think the way they do and equip you with some tools to engage in a constructive climate conversation. 

We all agree with each other more than we think.

Most people generally do believe in climate change – that fact probably isn’t very surprising. The data actually tell us that only about 16% of Americans don’t believe in climate change. Right now you might be thinking you’ve got a pretty good idea of who to blame for that 16% (other than Obama; thanks Obama). But as it turns out, we’re pretty bad at trying to predict who the climate believers and skeptics are. Us believers might assume that skeptics aren’t as highly educated or informed, but that’s not the case: general attitudes about global warming are unrelated to scientific literacy and education. You might be thinking, “what about… Republicans?” Wrong again! Data from multiple surveys actually show that the majority of Republicans believe in climate change. 

Why are people resistant to climate change policies even if they believe the science?

If majorities of both Republicans and Democrats believe in climate change, then what’s holding us back from coming together on climate issues? The answer, per usual, is each other. Republicans might not be skeptical of climate change, but they are skeptical of Democrats – and Democrats, in turn, are skeptical of Republicans. Psychologists have repeatedly shown that individuals tend to favor party over policy. That is, voters are more likely to support policies that are put forward by their own political party and reactively reject policies that are put forward by the opposing party, with little regard for the policy itself.  Unfortunately, these partisan allegiances seem to extend to climate policies as well, with Republicans opposing climate policies in large part because they are often proposed by Democrats. 

But there’s hope in this big ol’ mess. People cannot and should not be reduced to simply “Republicans” and “Democrats” – we are all so much more than that. And a path forward is right in front of us: if we’re able to distance ourselves from political labels and traps, we can uncover our commonalities and focus on solving this gigantic problem together. Of course, this is easier said than done. But a better understanding of the human mind and motivations for why people oppose climate policy can help us empathize with others, and offers us a much better chance at a constructive conversation.

Cognitive dissonance and the psychology of climate policy resistance

Now for the fun part: Let’s learn about a neat little psychological trick that, if you’re like me, will have you questioning nearly every decision you’ve ever made and shake you to your core: cognitive dissonance theory! 

Let’s unpack this theory with a simple example: Chiara’s a huge BBQ fan. She loves herself a fat slab of ribs with a side of corn dogs. As a scientist, she’s well aware that the meat industry is a huge contributor to climate change, but every week she heads to the butcher anyway. That mental discomfort she feels when a belief she holds (knowing that eating a lot of meat is bad for the planet) contradicts her actions (eating meat anyway) is what we refer to as cognitive dissonance. And people hate being in a state of dissonance. It’s sort of like being super hungry. It’s uncomfortable, we hate it, and the longer it persists the more motivated we are to get rid of it.

So how can Chiara reduce her dissonance? She can either change her actions to align with her beliefs, or she can change her beliefs to align with her actions. The first option means she has to quit eating meat, but she really doesn’t want to do that. The second option requires her to change her underlying beliefs about eating meat. To justify her actions, she can tell herself things like “my meat consumption won’t make a difference in the long run” or “I drive a Prius to work so I don’t need to stop eating meat”. If she’s feeling a particularly large amount of dissonance, Chiara might even seek out information that claims the meat industry isn’t contributing to climate change, or even that climate change itself isn’t real. By altering her beliefs about climate change, Chiara can keep eating meat without experiencing dissonance. And just like that, we’ve taken one of the authors of this article and turned her into a climate change skeptic (don’t worry, she’s not). 

This theory is powerful because it not only explains why Republicans are more likely to oppose climate change policy but also why anyone else whose values or actions are discordant with climate policy proposals might oppose them. For example, consider the case of Frank, a landowner in northern Texas who’s fallen on hard times. He’s approached by an oil and gas company to install a natural gas well on his property in exchange for royalties that will allow him to provide for his family. Though he was previously sympathetic to climate policy, Frank now finds himself in an elevated state of dissonance, where his family’s livelihood is intimately tied to the fossil fuel industry. To reduce his dissonance, Frank will likely start to downplay his beliefs around climate change.

An important takeaway here is that people who are acting to reduce dissonance by justifying their actions or a choice they made aren’t intentionally lying to you. Rather, they’re lying to themselves. This can all come off as very condescending, so it’s important to keep in mind that we are all guilty of this same conduct. For instance, you might really care about a farmer’s ability to support themselves, but then find yourself in a state of dissonance when that farmer’s choice to frack on their land clashes with your stance on environmentalism. To reduce dissonance, you’ll recharacterize the farmer as an ignorant and greedy opportunist. This doesn’t mean that you don’t understand the farmer’s financial motives, it just means you’re making it easier for yourself to sleep at night when you later vote to remove his access to that type of revenue. 

Now that we can understand a bit more about where people are coming from, and recognize what we have in common, what are the key ingredients to a constructive conversation?


Do it face to face. People have better first impressions, less conflict, feel more emotionally connected, and are more vulnerable when having conversations in-person rather than online. 

Paint a picture of a more positive future. Most narratives around climate change solutions paint a painful picture of a difficult future that will require substantial individual sacrifices. But if we do things right, the changes we make to address climate change could lead to a healthier, less expensive, more equitable, and guilt-free future. And while we understand why you want to convince Uncle Joe that climate change is scary and real, focusing on positive solutions is more effective in engaging people. It’s also critical in breaking down the cognitive dissonance that arises when we tell people that if they care about climate change, they’ll have to settle for a lower quality of life. Instead, focus on how policy and economic shifts could give us a better life even in a world undergoing climate change. We highly recommend listening to Ezra Klein’s conversation with Saul Griffith on this topic.

Leave party politics at the door. Like we said above, people tend to interpret information as positive or negative depending on which party presents it, so the less political you can remain the better. Further, using language like carbon “offsets” instead of carbon “taxes” can make people more amenable to your argument.

Use personal anecdotes and story-telling. Using stories, anecdotes, or narratives is an effective way of communicating science with non-experts, and local stories can make people want to engage more. Content presented in this format is also easier to understand.

Demonstrate vulnerability and show that making mistakes is okay. We need to do a much better job of normalizing the idea that it’s okay to make mistakes and change our minds – we’re all human! Most importantly, we must learn to forgive people when they do admit a mistake, and allow them space to change their minds. Attacking others for their views will only cause them to become more entrenched. Be vulnerable yourself; maybe share a story about a time you experienced dissonance and justified a poor choice, but were later were able to admit to yourself that you were wrong.

Show empathy and actively listen. Remember that you need to have a conversation with this person rather than direct your best monologue at them. Take a breath and prepare to actively listen. Remember that you have other things in common with them and that you both have reasons to hold the opinions you do (see all of the above). Going on a tirade that makes the other person feel steamrolled, misunderstood, or patronized will not be productive. People typically stick with the common opinion of their social group, so to reach someone, it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with them. Treat them with respect and kindness and show gratitude when they are willing to engage in a conversation with you. 

Talk about how strong of a consensus there is about climate change among scientists. Simply talking about how almost all climate scientists (97% to be exact) agree that climate change is real, pressing, and human-caused has been shown to increase climate change acceptance across party lines. 

Provide a brief mechanistic explanation of the greenhouse effect. Giving a brief explanation of the greenhouse effect increases climate change acceptance. You can even show them a fun video with Bill Nye. If you want to explain it yourself, here’s our two-liner: We’ve thrown our carbon cycle out of whack by burning fossil fuels, which means that we are now releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Excess CO2 in the atmosphere traps heat from the sun — instead of heat from the sun bouncing off the Earth and back out of our atmosphere, it bounces right back toward us, which causes global temperatures to rise. Check out our Climate Science 101 article for more, or if the person you’re talking to has misconceptions about the science of climate change, check out our article on addressing specific climate change misconceptions

<strong>Shane Schwikert</strong>
Shane Schwikert

Shane is a teacher, researcher, and data enthusiast at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he wailed his way to a PhD in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science. His hobbies range from dirt biking to backcountry skiing to gold panning, and he is an avid rock collector known for assembling his treasures in strategic piles throughout his apartment.

Chiara Forrester
Chiara Forrester

Chiara is happiest when she’s in the mountains on skis, a bike, or running. She also loves Ariana Grande (117 hours this year, thanks Spotify), making dinner with friends, and laughing too loudly at her own jokes. An ecologist who’s passionate about science communication and increasing diversity in STEM, Chiara is currently a PhD candidate in Boulder, CO, studying alpine plant ecology, undergraduate education, and the use of science in federal land management.

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.

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.