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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outdoor advocacy update 002: LWCF, Line 5 pipeline, and more

From breaking political news to outdoor advocacy movements, the world around us seems to be moving extra fast these days–and it’s hard to keep up sometimes. To help you stay in the loop, I’m going to start providing mini quick + gritty updates on all things advocacy and the outdoors. Let’s dig in:

ADVOCACY UPDATES + NEWS:

Yes, it’s a lame duck session right now–but there’s a big story happening for public lands and the outdoor industry in Congress. There’s a lot of movement on a package of bills that includes reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (read more here if you don’t know what LWCF is), solutions to the National Parks Service backlog, the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, and more. REI’s President Jerry Stritzke wrote an op-ed in The Hill about the bipartisan opportunity we have to get goodness done for our public lands.

Follow my updates on OIA’s Twitter channel here, it could all come together or fall apart at any moment. At this point, it sounds like a public lands package is likely to pass, and if it does, it will definitely include permanent reauthorization of LWCF!

Speaking of LWCF, there was a LWCF press conference in DC this week held by key bipartisan congresspeople supporting reauthorization. Even Senator Cory Gardner gets it, this is such a win-win funding program for public lands.

After years of leadership under Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-R), the House Natural Resources Committee will now be chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-D). I have visited Rep. Grijalva’s office in DC a few times, and it’s always a lobbying highlight. He is a champion for core issues like public lands protection and native sovereignty. Here’s my favorite quote from this article about Rep. Grijalva’s plans to tackle climate change in his new position:

“We have an opportunity to take this committee and its priorities and its policies and legislative initiatives and steer it in a different direction. Under our jurisdiction, we have issues that have to be dealt with — tribal sovereignty, education, health care, historical and cultural resource preservation.

The other issue is climate change. It touches every issue that we deal with, and the fossil-fuel extraction industries are making such a rush for resources in our public lands. This administration, in two years, has made every effort to suppress science and dumb down the issue of climate change. We want to elevate that again to the status it deserves in decision-making.” (source)

ONE WAY TO TAKE ACTION:

‘Tis this season of gratitude giving, and Outdoor Alliance has a letter-writing tool to thank key lawmakers for the their work on the above mentioned public lands package that could have big impacts on US outdoor spaces–and remind them to light a fire under their tooshes to get the package across the finish line and make! it! happen! Write a letter to your reps here. 

What I’m Reading:
  • OIA recently hired a new Vice President of Government Affairs, Patricia Rojas-Ungár, and I am amped. She brings such good advocacy energy, she’s super talented, and she’s Latinx. Read this SNEWS interview with her.
  • This in-depth feature piece from Nat Geo on Bears Ears and public lands. Highlights included a thorough guide through the history of US land, from stealing the land from native people to Clive Bundy, and seeing a shoutout to the public lands march organized by OIA in SLC last summer.
What I’m Watching:
  • Michigan Line 5 – My friend Adam Wells created this beautiful and tragic film about a pipeline that runs through the Great Lakes region. I visited this area a few weeks ago during my solo midwest trip, and I couldn’t believe that this environmental crisis is looming in such a precious landscape. Here’s a poignant snippet, and you can watch the whole thing below:

    Every day 23 million gallons of oil are pumped under the largest freshwater system on the planet, putting over 450 miles of shoreline and 100,000 acres of water at risk. The Great Lakes supply drinking water to 40 million people, provide crucial habitat to 47 species, and support a handful of multi-billion dollar industries. Line 5 expired fifteen years ago. It’s not a matter of if it spills, but when.

Before the Spill from Adam Wells on Vimeo.

Got a bit of advocacy news or updates I ought to know about and include in the next mini fresh? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail! 

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Advocacy Toolkit: Vote The Outdoors in 2018

If I could urge people to take just one action for outdoor advocacy in 2018, it would be to vote. In the last year, we’ve witnessed the dismantling of national monuments, erasure and denial of our planet’s climate change crisis, attacks on our public lands, and please-don’t-get-me-started-on-how-we’re-treating-our-fellow-humans-these-days.

This is a call to arms.  Your ballot is your greatest weapon in the fight for justice and representation in our government.

So, how do you get educated on the issues that matter most, and figure out which candidates will best represent your outdoor values in Congress? These resources will help empower you to vote, vote, vote the outdoors:

  • OIA’s Voters Guide 2018: In my opinion, this is the ultimate resource for outdoor voters this election. The team at OIA put together an extensive guide that covers: explanations on specific voter issues, endorsements of candidates in key races, a Congressional scorecard (see below), toolkits to help you spread the word, and more. It’s a true voter hub.
  • OIA Congressional Scorecard: A breakdown every incumbent candidate based on how they voted on issues like climate change, LWCF, wildfire funding, public lands, and more. Each candidate receives a letter grade–unsurprisingly, both Utah reps got an F. Did I mention how important it is to vote?!
  • Protect Our Winters Voter Guidebook: In addition to incumbent candidates, POW has breakdowns on every candidate on issues like climate, energy and environment. This interactive tool will help you create a ballot guide that you can print out and bring to the polls with you.
  • Vote.Org: Need to update registration? Go to Vote.org. Can’t vote in person? Vote.org can help. Don’t know where your polling place is? Vote.org does.

 

Specific state + ballot initiative resources:

  • Colorado: Check out this state-wide voter guide from Elevation Outdoors. It has all the amendments, propositions, candidate info, and more. 10/10

*Note: If you have additional state + local resources, please send them my way! I will be updating this through the election.

Once you’ve dug in and become an empowered voter, you’ll be moved to start taking action now beyond just bubbling in your ballot. There is so much you can do to support voters and help others make their voices heard. These are some of the ways you can take action this election season:

  • Empower your friends, family and colleagues to vote too. Help your roommate register to vote, translate ballots and voter issues for your abuela or your neighbors, put Vote.org in your instagram bio and remind the people you love regularly to get activated. Offer to drive folks to the polls on election day.
  • Join me + OIA on Oct 15th to pledge to #VoteTheOutdoors. Post on your social media channels on 10/15 with a message that says “I pledge to #VoteTheOutdoors this election–will you?” For the full toolkit and activation, join the Outdoor Advocate Network on Facebook and you’ll get access to a suite of social media posts + graphics I designed to get the word out. (Or just use the graphic here.)
  • Donate to your local candidates. Whether you have $5 or $50 to give, your local candidates need your support to win these races. If you can’t donate money, donate your time and energy. Round up your friends and help canvas neighborhoods. My parents in Miami hosted a dinner party meet-and-greet to support a local candidate. If you’re a graphic designer or have talents you can serve with, offer your services. – And if you’re looking for someone to support, may I suggest Shireen Ghorbani in Utah’s 3rd congressional district?
  • Keep talking about outdoor politics and the importance of voting. Post on social media, bring it up around the dinner table, invite friends over for a voter education party. Flex your voice, and make it heard often.

Listen, I get it: I’ve ‘forgotten’ to vote too. I’ve missed the registration deadlines, been traveling on voting day, whatever excuse is in the book for not voting, I’ve used it. But with this political climate, I will never miss an opportunity to make my voice heard through voting again. If you travel frequently or work a job that doesn’t allow you to get to a polling place on election day, remember that you can vote by mail. 

Not registered yet, or need to check your voter status? Here are the registration deadlines for all 50 states. Some states even let you register on election day (which they all should).

This isn’t about Democrats, or Republicans. This is about using our vote to protect the outdoors and voting for what’s fair and just for our fellow humans in this country. Political culture has become a beastly, embarrassing mess in so many ways, and I truly, deeply believe that if we make our voices heard, we can restore civility, community, and hope for America. I believe in my country, because I believe in the good people who live here. Justice will prevail, friends, if we just vote.

 

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