Photo: Kings Canyon National Park, California. Credit: Mason Cummings
Already in the current Congress, two dozen bills and amendments threaten to gut and effectively invalidate the Antiquities Act, which was first signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt to protect treasured American lands as national monuments. Outrageously, these radical attacks on new parks and monuments are being pushed during the year of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary. Instead of supporting our national parks, like the overwhelming majority of Americans, Congress is instead attempting to gut the law that has protected nearly half of them.
America’s National Forest System contains the largest network of trails in the world and draws roughly 165 million visitors every year. But most of these trails are not in great shape due to a long maintenance backlog, the result of Congress' chronic underfunding. This means that many people can’t access the trails—and when they can, the trails are not always safe.
For decades, Native American tribes and others have been advocating for the protection of a landscape in Utah that is vital to their history and culture, known as Bears Ears. Rampant looting, grave robbing, irresponsible off-road vehicle use, energy development and the destruction of historic structures and rock art threaten the survival of this unique place.
Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s last great wild landscapes, and the home of polar bears, wolves and caribou, but the oil industry regularly fights for permission to drill there. Both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have pending legislation to designate this amazing place as wilderness and finally protect it once and for all from development threats—but they won’t act unless you demand it.
We know that mining and burning coal from our public lands has a tremendous impact on our climate. In the 21stcentury, the federal government should take into account those impacts on water, land and air before leasing land for development.The BLM has announced its commitment to amending the federal coal program, and they need to hear your voice! The status quo for coal that hastens climate change has no place on our public lands and no place in the 21st century.
While Grand Canyon National Park celebrates its 100th birthday, potential uranium mines and logging of old growth ponderosa pine forest just outside the boundary directly threaten water quality, human health, wildlife connectivity and cultural heritage in the area. Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced legislation to protect this special place, but Congress has failed to act on it.
Public lands enemy number one, Representative Rob Bishop, is back at it again! This time he intends to take down landmark sagebrush conservation plans by targeting a defenseless bird, the greater sage-grouse. Through a national security bill, Rep. Bishop is trying to attach language that would undo publicly developed conservation plans and sell off critical sage-grouse habitat to the highest energy development bidder.
Giant sequoias: the largest trees on earth. Bristlecone pines: the oldest living things. Mount Whitney: the tallest peak in the lower 48. These natural wonders are all found in three spectacular national forests—the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo within California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. And they all have one thing in common: they are protected in wilderness areas. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to conserve even more of these treasures!