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.

Advocacy Action: Sign the #PublicLandsPledge

On November 4th, public lands advocacy collective Outdoor Alliance launched a campaign called the #PublicLandsPledge. This project is aiming to collect over 10,000 signatures and stories on why public lands are so important. In early 2020, Outdoor Alliance will be delivering these signatures directly to lawmakers in DC and 2020 presidential candidates. We’re sending a message: protecting public lands is a priority, and we will be voting accordingly.

The pledge has over 4,000 signatures so far, spanning across the entire country – showing the nationwide support for public lands. Check out Outdoor Alliance’s map of signatures–it gives us all the best advocacy warm and fuzzies:

How to take action:

Getting involved with the #PublicLandsPledge is easy. Just head here to the Outdoor Alliance official landing page for the pledge, scroll to the bottom, and sign your name. It takes less than 30 seconds! If you really want to maximize your action, leave a story in the comment field sharing why public lands are so important to you. Personalized messages from constituents are the most effective communication to lawmakers.


SHARE THE #PUBLICLANDSPLEDGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: We encourage you to share your stoke about the Public Lands Pledge in your own words, but here are some examples of sample posts and messaging you can use too:

Note: Use this link when sharing! http://bit.ly/signthePLP

  • I stand for public lands and waters. Not only because of the experiences they offer us—but also because they improve our climate, local economies, and quality of life. Join me and sign the @OutdoorAlliance #PublicLandsPledge: http://bit.ly/signthePLP

  • We hike, bike, boat, climb, ski, and surf. We don’t witness the great outdoors—we live it. That’s why I signed the #PublicLandsPledge. Will you join me? Make your voice heard via http://bit.ly/signthePLP

  • My friends at @OutdoorAlliance are collecting the signatures of 10,000+ individuals, organizations, and brands that care about outdoor recreation. Will you join me and sign the #PublicLandsPledge? http://bit.ly/signthePLP

  • @OutdoorAlliance is collecting 10,000+ voices that care about outdoor recreation–and then hand-delivering these comments to decision-makers in Washington D.C. in early 2020. Join me and sign the #PublicLandsPledge: http://bit.ly/signthePLP

  • The outdoor community has a powerful voice right now. We passed a huge public lands package back in the spring, and there’s a lot more we can do for our public lands. If you haven’t taken the #PublicLandsPledge yet, what are you waiting for? Join me and @OutdoorAlliance: http://bit.ly/signthePLP

What is the Antiquities Act?

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

History

The Antiquities Act, enacted in 1906, gives the President the ability to proclaim National Monuments on federal lands that contain “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest.” Originally created to prevent looting of Indigenous artifacts from archaeological sites, this powerful tool allows the President to bypass the slow-moving legislative process in order to protect large swaths of land that are under critical threat. The White House typically spends time collaborating with local stakeholders to decide what the protected area should look like and how it will function prior to designation giving local communities a strong voice in the process. Additionally, the designation can be used to protect public lands from impending oil and gas extraction and commercial development and instead aid in generating “economic growth through tourism, recreation, and improved property values” in the towns surrounding the National Monuments. 

National Park vs National Monument

A National Monument differs from a National Park in a few ways. Several critical differences according to Outside Online are:

Why the land is being protected:

  • “National Parks protect land that offers “scenic, inspirational, educational, and recreation opportunities.” 
  • National Monuments protect land that is “historic, cultural, or scientific nature” 

Management Structure

  • “National Parks are managed by the National Park Service 
  • National Monuments can be managed by a myriad of agencies such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or US Fish and Wildlife Service” 

Designation Power

  • “National Parks must be voted on, approved, and designated by Congress
  • National Monuments can be established by the President through a proclamation”

Attack on the Antiquities Act

According to the Center for Western Priorities, “For over 100 years, presidents of both political parties have used the Antiquities Act to protect national monuments. Since 1906, 16 presidents have protected 157 monuments under the law.” However, in the recent political era, many designations have been highly contentious between political parties. During the Obama administration, 29 new National Monuments were established in 17 different states protecting a total of 553 million acres of federal lands and waters. One Monument designated during the Obama era is Bears Ears National Monument. This Monument is considered highly controversial as the Trump administration proclaimed a reckless reduction of the area in 2017. Many organizations such as the Natural Resources Defence Council, Access Fund, Patagonia, Utah Dine Bikeyah, and others have banned together to sue Donald Trump claiming that this reduction is a direct attack on the Antiquities Act. The organizations claim the Antiquities Act gives the president the ability to create National Monuments, but only Congress has the authority to revoke or revise the protected area. 

How to take action

It seems the battle for the protection of the Antiquities Act is just beginning. It is more important than ever to tell your representatives that you support the Antiquities Act and hope to see it upheld in perpetuity. Click on the National Parks Conservation Association’s easy-to-use letter-writing tool to support the Antiquities Act. 

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.