How have you taken action on public lands?
Our friends and supporters know public lands are at a turning point. Even though more people than ever are discovering and enjoying public lands, a small group of lawmakers is working in statehouses and the halls of Congress to convert public property to private profit.
The good news? People all across the country are speaking up in defense of the land we all share. And if you’re among those who’ve written to your representatives, attended a rally, or helped spread the word, you’re part of the movement to defend public land.
Though there are challenges ahead, it helps to know we’re all in this together. Meet just a few of Trust for Public Land supporters who’ve taken action for public lands.
“So many people I encounter in Idaho think at first glance that a state taking over public land is a good thing. But once I get to talking with them, and have a chance to explain the hidden costs and tremendous risks of transferring federal land, their minds start to change.” – Heidi H.
Heidi is a mom, small business owner, and artist who moved to Boise, Idaho, with her husband 14 years ago. She’d been working in environmental policy in Washington, D.C., but the Rocky Mountains were calling: “We’re big climbers, skiers, mountain bikers, and backpackers, so when we were looking for a place to settle and raise a family, access to those things was at the top of our minds.”
So when she started reading about efforts to sell off millions of acres of federally protected land in Idaho and across the West, she knew it was time to dust off her policy skills and step up for the landscapes she loves. And she’s had help: her three kids, Hawken, age 7, Adeline, 10, and Ben, 12, all joined in a public lands rally at the state capitol building in March.
“We had a great time with it. We stayed up making signs the night before, and had good conversations with the kids about what we wanted to say,” Heidi says. “And I think it was valuable for them to be at the rally and see how many—and how many different kinds—of people were there expressing their love for the land. I hope I can pass this sense of responsibility and accountability on to my kids.”
“I’ve always been kind of a low-key citizen: I vote and read and sign online petitions. But at this moment in history, with the rise of this movement to dismantle public lands, I am more active than I’ve ever been.” – Christian M.
Christian, 30, is a graphic designer who grew up and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah—a state at the center of the battle over public lands. He spends much of his spare time in out in the desert, roaming the stark landscapes that draw millions of people to hike, bike, paddle, and climb in the state each year. “Utah has amazing opportunities for exploration,” says Christian. “Five national parks, not to mention millions of acres of Forest Service and BLM land that’s so spectacular it could be a national park.”
Christian was encouraged by the creation of the Bears Ears National Monument in January, but he knows that the fate of the monument isn’t set in stone. “A few weeks ago, the state legislature was considering a motion to request that the declaration be rescinded, which would be terrible,” Christian says. He headed to a hearing at the state capitol to voice his opinion. “I was surprised to see hundreds of other people there in support of keeping the monument—and only four or five people there to oppose it. It showed me that people care deeply about this landscape, and how mobilized we are to protect it.”
From Christian’s perspective, there’s a lot going on in politics that motivates him to take action—but public lands issues stand out. “With only so much time and energy, I choose to devote myself to defending public land. ’ll try not to wax poetic about nature– I’m not good at that. But the wilderness is a spiritual place for me, a healing place, and I can’t imagine a life without it.”
“We can’t afford to take our eye off the ball. We can’t afford to relax and say, ‘Somebody else will do it’—you have to do it. And when you step forward, you never know who you’ll be inspiring to join you.”—Sheryl M.
Sheryl, a retired landscape architect in Southern California, is no stranger to standing up for open space. She earned her stripes as an activist in the early 1980s, when worked to block construction of a freeway through critical wildlife habitat near her home. “I went to countless meetings, I wrote tons of letters, I stayed on top of the thing. And it worked—it took years and years of obstinate resistance, but we defeated it—and saved a beautiful place.”
These days, Sheryl says, it’s more important than ever to be engaged. “For years it felt like we were making some progress—in Southern California and nationally—on public lands. It’s like we were on cruise control, getting used to things happening the way you think they should. But the election and the wave of anti-environment, anti-public lands legislation that’s being introduced has made me sit up straight and get more involved.”
Sheryl volunteers at a local botanical garden, where she teaches about Southern California ecosystems. She’s a member of local and national conservation organizations, which keep her up to speed on rallies and other events. And she’s a vocal constituent, with both her senators’ offices on speed dial. “I call, write, or email them and just make my positions known. I often get responses, too, so I know my voice is being counted.”
Sheryl says if there’s one thing she’s learned from a lifetime of activism, it’s that these things take time, courage, and persistence. But she’s seen the results—on trails she’s helped protect, and in local parks where her grandkids play, and it’s worth every ounce of effort. “I’ve learned that persistence pays off.”
Have you called, written, rallied, or volunteered? If you’ve taken action in support of public lands recently, we want to hear about it! Leave us a comment here, or head over to our Facebook page. And if you’d like to support our work, there’s no better time: until May 31, when you donate to The Trust for Public Land, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar
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