Amongst, cherry blossoms blooming a month early due to unseasonably warm weather, The Conservation Alliance board and staff recently convened in Washington D.C. for a day of education on conservation issues followed by a day of advocacy on the Hill. While a portion of our board has been strongly involved in advocacy over the years, we have increased our commitment to involve our entire board with this important aspect of our work.
Over the past 18 months or so, there has been an unprecedented amount of legislation that if passed, would directly compromise and roll back protection of our public lands. First there is H.R. 1505, otherwise known as the “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act”. This act would put all federal lands within 100 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders or any U.S. coastline under the control of Homeland Security. Thus any protected areas in this scope would no longer be subject to any protection — think Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Great Lakes and Boundary waters and so on.
Next there is the “McCarthy Bill” introduced by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California that would release about 43 million acres of the 60 million acres protected by the roadless rule. Finally, the Land Water Conservation Fund faced significant challenges before being pulled through and there have even been rumblings to repeal the Antiquities Act.
As a grant organization that engages in advocacy directly related to conservation efforts we have funded, we now find ourselves also addressing these challenges to what, up to now, have been fundamental cornerstones of conservation law in the United States. If these issues matter to you, please let your elected official know — enough voices and they will listen! If you’d like to write to your representative, find their information here. For other contact information, go here.
I am glad none of this has come to pass and expressed this positive message in all of my meetings. The outdoor recreational economy has remained strong and healthy through challenging economic times. Members of The Conservation Alliance rely on public lands for our customers to engage in human powered recreation. I am thankful for those in Congress who recognize that conservation of our public lands is good for our economy — period. I had a great time listening and learning and checking the vibe on Capitol Hill and I look forward to a spirit of progress and action in years to come.
Gareth Martins is the Director of Marketing at Osprey Packs. He is also a Conservation Alliance board member.