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Flickr user John Brighenti

Three hot-button issues that affect our public lands—and how you can help

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Public lands advocates like you helped score a big victory for parks and open space this spring, when the President signed a bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). But that bill didn’t guarantee funding for this important conservation program—meaning the future of our parks and public lands is still subject to shifting political winds. And that means we still have work to do!

Next week, a group of volunteers will be gathering in Washington, DC, for The Trust for Public Land’s Day on the Hill. They’ll meet with their representatives and make the case for conservation, face-to-face. 

dc_dayonthehill_20180424_218_ELeditSenators and members of Congress juggle a lot of information. Our advocates help educate their representatives on the key issues that affect public lands.Photo credit: Elyse Leyenberger

But you don’t have to climb Capitol Hill to speak up for the public lands you love. Read up on these three big issues our volunteers will be tackling with members of Congress—and then contact your representative and let them know you value parks and open spaces.

1. Guarantee full funding for LWCF

Since 1965, LWCF has protected the nation's most iconic landscapes and expanded access to outdoor recreation, without costing taxpayers a dime: the program is funded entirely by fees from offshore oil and gas drilling, meaning oil companies pay to create parks and protect open space. This ingenious solution is at the root of LWCF’s longstanding popularity with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. (The bill to permanently reauthorize the program passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8.)

id_bonnercounty_10222015_24From close to home parks to faraway wilderness, LWCF helps communities protect the places they play outside. But the President's proposed budget virtually eliminates funding for this crucial program.Photo credit: Annie Kuster

If LWCF is permanently reauthorized, then why are we still advocating for it? Imagine LWCF is a piggy bank. The bill passed this spring guarantees the piggy bank will always be there, but it doesn’t dictate how much money will go in. Congress could allocate up to $900 million for LWCF, but most years it appropriates less than half that amount, diverting funds that should go to parks and conservation to other sources. This year, the President’s proposed budget allotted just [TK million]—a fraction of the funding our parks and public lands deserve.

Next week, our volunteers will be urging their representatives to support the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act. This bill would guarantee the full $900 million for LWCF every single year, ensuring Congress will never again be able to divert this needed conservation funding to other ends.

2. Protect federal public lands

The Outdoor Industry Association reports that outdoor recreation and tourism generate 7.6 million jobs, $887 billion in consumer spending, $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue, and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue each year. Our 674 million acres of federal public lands in the United States are our shared heritage and source of wonder, and we have a responsibility to protect them.

But in 2017, the federal government announced it would shrink four national monuments: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade-Siskyou in California and Oregon, and Gold Butte in Nevada. This decision, currently being challenged in court, is an unprecedented and deeply unpopular attack on national monuments—and it undermines the Antiquities Act itself. 

A person stands under an arch at Bears Ears National MonumentThe future of national monuments like Bears Ears is uncertain. The Antiquities Act of 2019 would reinforce that Congress alone, and not the President, can shrink national monuments.Photo credit: Bob Wick

Our volunteers will be speaking up for two bills that can stem these attacks on the public lands we all share. The Antiquities Act of 2019 reinforces that only Congress can alter national monuments. America’s Public Lands Act prohibits selling our public lands without an act of Congress.

3. Use parks to address climate challenges

A growing body of research demonstrates how parks, nature, and open space can help cities adapt to the impacts of a changing climate while reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage. Parks keep cities cooler in summer and absorb runoff when big storms hit, reducing the risk of flooding. Urban bike trails make it safer and easier for people to get around without driving. Community forests and woodlands, wetlands, and shorelines buffer people and properties from catastrophic storms, and capture and store carbon.

The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) is a federal program that funds climate-smart parks and trails across the country. But the President’s proposed budget for 2020 eliminated funding for ORLP. So our Day on the Hill volunteers will be asking their representatives to support the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act, which would increase the program’s funding for the coming fiscal year, so more at-risk communities can protect themselves from the risks of climate change.

We're standing up for the parks and open spaces that matter ... but we can't do it without your help. Sign the petition urging your representatives to support these important policies.


Paula Baldissard
We must protect our public lands
Marlene Stiffler
To my congressmen: Scott Perry, Pat Tomey, & Casey. Please do what you can to protect our public lands for future generations. Thank you. Marlene Stiffler
Tom Canavan
Leave our public lands alone
Thomas Anthony ...
Protect our parks, our heritage! They are our most beautiful and sacred investment.
Owen Edwards
Donald Trump learned the value of GSA surplus property and he's also learned the profit of selling & leasing our lands. In deeds alone, this president, violates the will of the people, in our preservation of amazing American lands, in order to provide his financial supporters, and possible corporations allowances to purchase or lease our lands in destruction (in the name of progress) via various deadly mining, excavating, or plain removal of "resources," even storage of lethal products such as depleted uranium.
Linda Cortez
Please, do not keep killing the mustangs, burros, and other horses. They are taken and send to China to kill them.
Darlene J. Heere
All Americans need to stand up for The Trust for Public Land . . . if we do not it Public Land will not be there for generations that are our countries future!!!
Rheta Johson
Our public lands need to be protected at all costs. Once they are damaged or destroyed, they can never be replaced.
Douglas Stuart ...
Keep up the very valuable work you've been doing.
Jennifer C Rockhold
It is our civic responsibility to ensure that public lands, iconic landscapes and funding for maintaining these is the responsibility of our citizenry via government. Please support the three legislative items above. We should also support all initiatives to incorporate use of public lands to address climate change (which is very real). We must provide future generations a beautiful country to live in, with all the public lands with beautiful vistas and historic landmarks intact.
Duane Williams
If we don't keep and take care of our public lands, they will all be exploited and sold!!
ranchers that graze cattle and sheep in nevada pay far less than they should. raise the unit rate to an appropriate level and use the income to protect endangered species. cattle and sheep produce methane , which effects climate change
Pierre Catala
Please support the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program Act, which would increase the program’s funding for the coming fiscal year, so more at-risk communities can protect themselves from the risks of climate change. Thank you
Esther Mechler
Are trapping and hunting allowed in these protected spaces? Please let us know.
Bill Kellow
First I don't understand how Trump thinks he can do whatever he wants for his rich buddies to just let drill and mined our national parks that are supposed to be protected? why doesn't he let these rich buddies drill and mined on his stupid golf courses. This whole topic really just makes me really angry with this President.
Terrence Olson
All our natural resources need to be protected and used wisely.
Richard (Butch)...
It is time to stop short changing our public lands. The national parks and forests have been cut to the marrow. Every year jobs are not filled. The back log of maintenance needs just keeps growing. Fully fund these agencies now.
Marvis J. Phillips
Our Public Lands say who we are as a Natiion, what we care about, how we look at our selves within the bigger picture of the vision of Earth, and how we are the caretakers of this planet. We need to support those vital values for the future generations to enjoy, now not in the future, but right now.
Karen A Breny
Please stand with the Land Trust and vote for the America’s Public Lands Act which prohibits selling our public lands without an act of Congress. So much is at stake. Thank you!
Sherry Schupbach
Please support the LCWF Permanent Funding Act, protect Federal public lands with the Antiquities Act of 2019 and Americas Public Lands Act, and the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Act. Please do what is right for our country and all of us who live here - don't sell us out to the highest bidders. Do the right thing.
Denise Tratolatis
Keep up the good work.
Carol A Brandt
Please , you need to PROTECT our public lands instead of giving those acres to the petroleum companies to devastate. Besides destroying those acres , you'll be exterminating animals who have been there for years. PLEASE stop these actions while we still have time to do so, thank you........
Dan and Melinda...
Fund and protect LWCF! These lands are national treasures.
Nancy Smith
You always talk about National Parks. Why don’t you advocate for the National Forests?

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