Outdoor Advocacy Update 005: public lands package + meet Zinke’s replacement

Let’s start with the good news. In case you’ve been living under (or climbing on top of) a rock for the last week: the outdoor community scored a big win last week with the passage of the public lands package through the Senate.

What’s the public land package, you ask? Here’s a quick peek inside the treasure trove of public land victories tucked inside this massive package, more formally known as the Natural Resources Management Act (SR.47): 

  • Permanently authorizes and funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Includes the Emery County Bill which designates 750,000 acres of wilderness 300,000 acres of recreation area and 60 miles of the Green River as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
  • Protected Yellowstone and North Cascades National Parks from nearby mining
  • Provides funding and protection for national parks, monuments, and BLM land in California
  • Protects salmon, migratory birds and other wildlife across the country.
  • Creates wilderness areas in New Mexico, expands 8 national parks, and more.

If you want to dig in on this, check out this excellent guide to the Natural Resources Management Act from Outside Magazine. And if you really want to nerd out, you can read the full text of this legislation here.

What’s the current status of the public lands package? It has one more hurdle to clear: the House of Representatives, which is currently in recess this week. Hope is that the House will take up the package once they get back in office next week. It’s looking good that the public lands package will pass the House and cross the finish line–but you need to reach out to your reps and urge them to take action. Here are two letter-writing tools: this one from Outdoor Alliance and this one from Outdoor Industry Association.

Now for the bad news: meet Zinke’s (likely) replacement, David Bernhardt.

I wrote a new piece for REI titled Meet the (Likely) Next Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt–and it’s pretty damn good if I do say so myself. I dug into Bernhardt’s background and history within the Department of the Interior (it’s long and his client + project list speak for themselves, no bueno), what the process of getting him in office looks like, and what a Secretary of Interior actually does. Give it a read and let me know what you think. I learned a lot in the process of researching this piece. Here’s a quick snippet for you:

“Since rejoining the department in 2017, Bernhardt has taken on many initiatives while keeping a relatively low public profile—until this recent nomination. His previous work has included rescinding climate change and mitigation policies, and supporting the administration’s decision to overhaul protections in the Endangered Species Act, which he outlined in this Washington Post Op-Ed. He also implemented length restrictions on National Environmental Policy Act environmental impact reports. Since President Trump took office, oil and gas leasing on public lands has “generated $360 million, an almost 90 percent increase from 2016,” according to NPR.

During the recent government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which falls under Bernhardt’s purview, allowed for a portion of its nearly 2,300 non-furloughed employees to continue some energy, minerals and grazing activities, according to BLM’s contingency plan. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) penned a letter to Bernhardt, questioning the department’s reported actions in moving forward on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite reduced staff and the impact on the public comment process due to the shutdown.” (Read the full article via REI here.)

Other things you oughta know about this week in outdoor advocacy + community:

Got an important outdoor advocacy or community story I ought to include in the next advocacy update? Leave a comment, send me a message, let’s do this!

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