Policy Update – April 2021

Call for backcountry footage, a NEPA update, and budget season in DC

Photo Credit: Joey Sackett (on the ancestral lands of the Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Cheyenne and other Nations)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (4/27/2021)

Spring has sprung! For some, that means corn skiing or crust cruising under bluebird skies, while others have hung up their sticks for the season. Either way, it’s a good time to reflect on this past winter. This may go down as the busiest winter in the backcountry to date, and we certainly saw many of the nation’s popular trailheads and backcountry areas stressed by the increase in use.

Call for Footage

Winter Wildlands is looking for drone footage, video footage, still photography, and/or any other imagery that demonstrates the heavy use in the winter backcountry this past season. This could include but is not limited to: a timelapse of an untracked snow area turning into an over-tracked area, drone footage of overuse at trailheads or full parking lots, etc. All forms of winter recreation apply. We have a small cash budget to pay for content and are happy to discuss additional compensation options. Please reach out to our Events + Marketing Director, Melinda, at mquick@winterwildlands.org with your media and any questions.

NEPA and Action in Biden’s Eco-Cabinet

On the policy front, there are exciting things happening in the world of NEPA!

This past month, the Senate confirmed Brenda Mallory to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. We’re very excited to see Ms. Mallory in charge at CEQ, as she has been a fierce NEPA advocate throughout her career. Now that she’s confirmed, the CEQ is moving forward with repairing NEPA. We expect to see administrative action in the coming weeks. Because CEQ was without a leader until just recently, they had requested a (delay) in our legal case challenging the 2020 NEPA regulations. Now, our lawyers are scheduled to meet with the CEQ lawyers and the judge on June 3.

Meanwhile, on April 16, Interior Secretary Haaland issued a Secretarial Order that does the following:

  • Establishes a climate task force at Interior with all of the Assistant Secretaries on it, making it an all-of-department operation;
  • Directs bureaus and offices to NOT apply the 2020 NEPA Rule in a manner that would change what was done under prior regulations;
  • Directs NEPA reviews to include social cost of carbon;
  • Clarifies/makes tribal consultation & general public engagement a significant part of Interior’s NEPA process.

So, overall, things are looking up for NEPA!

Budget Season and the Forest Service

Finally, it’s budget season in DC! Earlier this month we released a report, A Case for Bold Investment in the Forest Service. We’re advocating for Congress to significantly increase appropriations for the Forest Service and other public lands agencies (in testimony that we and Outdoor Alliance submitted to the House Interior Appropriations Committee on April 15, we asked for a 50% increase over last year’s levels).

You can help amplify our message by sending a letter to Congress via this form (feel free to personalize the form letter!).

Happy Spring!