It’s feeling like summer and more Americans are getting outside to hike, camp, paddle, climb, bike, and explore. This year marks 100 years since the creation of the National Park Service, and it seems like more Americans than ever are getting outside and enjoying our public lands. At the same time, this year has seen some of the biggest threats to our public lands system in the last century. The public land heist has escalated in the west, and threatened our public ownership and access to the mountains, valleys, forests, and deserts where we love to explore.
Today, we’re excited to share 4 big recent victories in the fight to stop the public land heist:
- Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock announced a series of initiatives to protect public lands, including creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation for the state. He also spoke out against the public land heist, saying “Not on my watch will we sell our public lands off to the highest bidder. Not now, not ever.” Read more here.
- Coconino County in Arizona passed a resolution to oppose the public land heist. These resolutions are important because much of the “transfer” legislation begins at the county level. Coconino’s county commissioner Art Babbott said, “Coconino County’s resolution positively recognizes and places value on our traditions of access, recreation, and the application of multiple-use principles on our public lands. It is clear that efforts to transfer or sell our public lands will negatively impact our citizens, communities, and the regional economy.” Read more here.
- In Wyoming, the Casper Star Tribune’s editorial board wrote a powerful editorial criticizing the public land heist. They write: “People who live here know that these lands are rich with opportunities and meaning, and they should not be sold to the highest bidder. Public land provides dramatic benefits to those of us who live in Wyoming for the chance to hunt, fish, backpack, camp and hike on them. It’s also important to note that state land, while it is technically public, doesn’t come with all the same benefits as federal land. Users can’t camp on state land, for example, and access could be closed at any time at the whim of the state lands board.” Read more here.
- On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed legislation responding to Puerto Rico's debt crisis. Earlier versions of the bill had included a provision transferring a portion of the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge to the government of Puerto Rico, essentially slated to be sold off to developers. Because of the huge outpouring of opposition from public lands supporters like you, this harmful provision lost support in Congress and was removed from the legislation.
You made this all happen – public officials don’t speak out unless they’ve heard from voters like you. Thanks for sharing your stories, passing the petition around, and speaking out.