Policy Update – August 2021

Watch our Grassroots Advocacy Conference panel recordings, the infrastructure bill, Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah, winter travel planning, and more!

Photo Credit: Jason Hummel (on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish, Snoqualmie, Tulalip, Skykomish, and other Nations)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (8/30/2021)

Grassroots Advocacy Conference Panel Recordings

Did you miss a panel, want to re-watch your favorite panel, or even share a panel with your backcountry buddies? All of the conference panels were recorded and are now available online here.

Infrastructure Bill

Aside from the Grassroots Advocacy Conference, much of our attention this month has been trained on D.C., where Congress is negotiating an infrastructure bill. Of course, this bill has been all over the news, but the elements most directly relevant to our work aren’t necessarily the pieces that make the press.

The infrastructure reconciliation bill deals with massive amounts of money, including what could be historic investments in public lands. It also offers opportunities to address other public land management issues. For example, there’s a good chance the final bill might include language to stop drilling in the Arctic Refuge, but the bill might also cement some of the bad NEPA provisions we’ve been fighting over the past couple of years.

We’ve been working with our Outdoor Alliance partners to advocate for our funding and conservation priorities and push back against any attacks on NEPA. You can get caught up on the process, read our most recent letter to Congress, and send a note to your delegation, all at the Outdoor Alliance website here.

Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah

Another hot topic in policy this month is Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch (that’s the canyon that includes Alta and Snowbird, and countless backcountry lines). The Utah Department of Transportation is analyzing transportation alternatives to ease congestion in the canyon. Wasatch Backcountry Alliance has been tracking this EIS process closely and feels that UDOT should start by adequately funding programs and resources that leverage the existing infrastructure in LCC to address the traffic and congestion problems, before deciding to spend more than half a billion dollars to tear up the canyon to construct unproven solutions like a gondola or roadway widening. You can learn more and submit a comment on the WBA website: www.wasatchbackcountryalliance.org.

Winter Travel Plans

Finally, the much-anticipated release of final winter travel plans across the central and northern Sierra has been delayed (unsurprisingly), by fire season. From the Caldor fire on the Eldorado to the Dixie fire on the Plumas and Lassen, the Sierra is experiencing its worst wildfire season to-date. Our hearts go out to everybody who has been affected by wildfire in California, and elsewhere, this season.