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Midsummer Policy Update: Defending Public Lands on Multiple Fronts

Photo by Luc Mehl

ON JULY 10 THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD for Interior Secretary Zinke’s National Monument review closed. In just under two months over one million people weighed in, with the vast majority — 96%! —telling Zinke to leave our National Monuments alone. It was an unprecedented show of public lands advocacy, and we could all be forgiven for thinking our work was done for now.

Unfortunately, no such luck. Zinke followed up after this comment period with proposals to downsize Bears Ears National Monument and we expect the same for many of the other monuments. And while much of our attention has justifiably been focused on defending monuments, the Trump Administration and Congress are busy chipping away at our public lands in other, less overt, ways.

The public lands heist is a tangled web, but there are essentially four major threads: (1) new legislation, (2) changes to regulations and the agencies that enforce them, (3) reviews and rollbacks of existing protections, and (4) administrative restructuring. Together, these efforts share a common goal – to separate the public from our public lands and to allow industry, especially the energy industry, to squeeze every last penny of possible profit from our common heritage.

Legislative efforts to sell or transfer public lands are the most obvious piece of the public lands heist. However, because these efforts are so blatant, they are quickly beaten back and we’re seeing fewer and fewer attempts to float this type of legislation. Instead, Congress and state legislatures are now pushing bills to transfer management of public lands – from taking away federal agency law enforcement responsibilities to putting the states or local counties in charge of timber sales and energy development on public lands.

Congress is also busy rolling back regulatory protections put in place by a variety of previous administrations to protect our public lands, wildlife, air, water, and the public at large, so that industry can develop and profit from public resources with less cost and oversight – increasing industry profits at the direct expense of the American people.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is implementing an ambitious agenda to “streamline and reorganize” the Executive Branch, which includes all of the public lands agencies. Important conservation and recreation programs, as well as entire agencies, are on the chopping block. And as the Trump Administration proposes deep cuts to staff and funding for public land agencies with one hand, they’re also directing the same agencies to do more to facilitate fossil fuel development with the other.

Furthermore, while the Trump Administration and Congress are making it easier for industry to exploit our public lands, it’s becoming harder for the public to access and enjoy them. The Administration is pushing the public lands agencies to focus all of their capacity toward expediting fossil fuel development. At the same time, Congress has systematically reduced funding for these agencies, with greater reductions each year. Given less staff and fewer resources, and with clear direction from above to prioritize energy development, federal agencies have little choice but to abandon recreation and conservation programs and to increase fees wherever possible to cover budget gaps.

Meanwhile, they also have to triage their resources – maintaining only the most popular trails, putting up gates when they can no longer maintain roads or motorized routes, and closing campgrounds and picnic areas as they fall into disrepair and the funds are not available to fix them. We’ve also seen more and more instances of agencies having to farm out maintenance and other services to for-profit corporate “partners” whose mission is not the protection and stewardship of our lands for the benefit of all but rather the increased profit of a few shareholders.

As public lands become more difficult to experience and enjoy – because of new or increased fees, or because the routes we depend on for access or other types of recreational infrastructure have fallen into disrepair – the public becomes increasingly disconnected from these lands. As we lose this connection we will also lose the incentive to fight to keep public lands public. And, as the agencies are starved for resources and prevented from doing their jobs, many people begin to question why the government even owns and manages so much land. It doesn’t take long to go from devaluing the civil servants who manage public lands to losing interest in maintaining public ownership of these lands at all. This is the long game that public lands heist proponents are playing. We can’t let them win.

You can speak up for public lands today by clicking here to send a letter to your elected officials in Washington D.C. Help us keep the pressure on.

Thanks,

Hilary Eisen

Recreation Planning and Policy Manager

P.S. Want to do more? Share this post with your ski partners and social media friends and get them to speak up too. Or get in touch and we can brainstorm other ways for you to amplify your voice.

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Outdoor Rec Groups and Businesses Advocate For Greater Investment in Public Lands Agencies

On March 13th 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13781 directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a plan for reorganizing the executive branch, including recommending agencies, programs, and functions for elimination. The OMB in turn launched a 28-day comment period asking the American public to weigh in on how to reorganize, reduce, and eliminate agencies.

Today, the Outdoor Alliance, its member organizations, partners and friends (see list below) wrote to express strong support for continued and robust investment in the conservation and recreation programs of the land management agencies: the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Together, these agencies administer on behalf of the American people 674 million acres of lands that see over half a billion visits annually.

Outdoor Alliance • American Whitewater • MTB Missoula • Granite Backcountry Alliance • El Sendero Backcountry Ski and Snowshoe Club • Western Montana Climbers Coalition • Mazamas • Protect Our Winters • Washington Trails Association • The League of Northwest Whitewater Racers • Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA) • Paddle Trails Canoe Club • Oregon Kayak and Canoe Club • Lower Columbia Canoe Club • Friends of the Inyo • Washington Kayak Club • Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center • Snowlands Network • Tahoe Backcountry Alliance • Montana Backcountry Alliance • Friends of Plumas Wilderness • Silent Tracks • SHARE Mountain Bike Club • San Diego Mountain Biking Association • Tahoe Backcountry Alliance • The Mountaineers • American Alpine Club • Canoe Kayak and Paddle Co. LLC • Kayak and Canoe Club of New York • Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance • Mach One Slalom Team • Boy Scout Troop 32 • Mono Lake Committee • Zoar Valley Paddling Club • High County River Rafters • Crested Butte Nordic • Access Fund • Teton Valley Trails And Pathways • Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association • Western Montana Climbers Coalition • Boulder Climbing Community • Northwest Trail Alliance • Sierra Eastside Mountain Bike Association (SEMBA) • Wasatch Backcountry Alliance • Colorado Mountain Club • Salida Mountain Trails • Oregon Youth Mountain Biking • Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance of Idaho • Idaho Conservation League • Southern Off Road Bicycle Association • Silent Tracks • Triangle Off-Road Cyclists • SORBA Huntsville • Florida Mudcutters • Cape Fear SORBA • Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association • Piedmont Fat Tire Society • Ellijay Mountain Bike Association • West Alabama Mountain Bike Association • Atlanta Chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association • Southeastern Alabama Mountainbikers (SAM/SORBA) • rvaMORE • Moab Mountain Bike Association • Chile Pepper Bike Shop • Wyoming Wilderness Association • Albuquerque Mountain Bike Association • Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiast (MORE) • Tri-County Mountain Bike Association • Woody’s Mountain Bikes • Gwinnett Area trail Riders • Rim Country Mountain Biking Association • Spokane Mountaineers • Chama Valley Outdoor Club • Tarheel Trailblazers • Mountain Goat Adventures • Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition • SORBA Mid TN • SORBA West Georgia • Anthracite Mountain Pedalers • Fats in the Cats • Desert Foothills Mountain Bike Association • Northwest North Carolina Mountain Bike Alliance • Northeastern Utah Mountain Bikers • Flagler Area Biking SORBA • Midlands SORBA • North Mississippi Trail Alliance • Blue Mountain Singletrack Trails Club • Nantahala Area Southern Off-Road Bicycling Association • Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association • CVA SORBA • NYCMTB • Team Dirt • Togwotee Backcountry Alliance • Berbur, LLC • Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association • Colorado Mountain Bike Association • Bitteroot Backcountry Cyclists • Mountains to Sound Greenway • Inland Northwest Backcountry Alliance • Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association • Overland Mountain Bike Club • Boulder Mountainbike Alliance • Erie Singletrack Advocates • The Golden Giddyup • Advance Colorado Fund • Cyclists 4 Community • Colorado High School Cycling League • Beartooth Recreational Trails Association • Ocala Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) • Boulder Area Trails Coalition • Wood River Bicycle Coalition • Southern Nevada Mountain Bike Association (SNMBA) • Cycle-CNY • Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association • SORBA Woodstock • Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance • Santa Fe Fat Tire Society • Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship • Bark • Mammoth Lakes Recreation • Colorado High School Cycling League • Pedal United • Southeastern Pennsylvania Trail Riders • Friends Of Joshua Tree • Winter Wildlands Alliance • Montana Alpine Adventures • Native Eyewear • Tahoe Mountain Sports • Outdoor Research • Montana Alpine Guides • Beartooth Powder Guides • Outdoor Research • DPS Skis • Beartooth Mountain Guides • Timber Trails • Green Peak Promotions • Teton Backcountry Guides • Outdoor Project • 40 Tribes Backcountry Adventures • Onion River Sports • The Mountaineer • Ice Axe Expeditions • Ibex Outdoor Clothing • Backcountry Pursuit • Sawtooth Mountain Guides • Gravity Sports • Packer Expeditions • Superfeet Worldwide • 22 Designs • Sierra Business Council • Greenwood’s Ski Haus • Mountain Rider’s Alliance • Roscoe Outdoor • High Camp • STOKE Certified • Alpenglow Sports • Alpenglow Mountain Racing • KEEN Footwear • Freeheel and Wheel • Far and Away• Kelty • Idaho Mountain Touring • The Elephant’s Perch • Ascending Path • Chillaz North America • Pine Mountain Sports • Trailspace.com • Backcountry Babes • Clif Bar & Company • Business for Montana’s Outdoors • Revolution House Media • Shasta Mountain Guides • Yeti Cycles • SRAM • Backbone Media

Outdoor Alliance comment on EO 13781
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5TH Annual Mores Mountain Stewardship Project

Register Here

Winter Wildlands Alliance, with support from SnowSchool at Bogus Basin and Boise REI, will be hosting the 5th annual stewardship project at Mores Mountain. In partnership with US Forest Service’s Mountain Home Ranger District volunteers will gather to give back to a treasured, outdoor space at Mores Mountain. With its close proximity to the Treasure Valley, Mores Mountain is a well-loved and well used recreational area just above Bogus Basin. Mores Mountain offers trails for hikers, bikers, and skiers alike. With its panoramic views, guided nature walks, and designated picnic and camping spots it is a year round destination for multiple users groups.

Winter Wildlands would like to invite you to our 5th annual Stewardship project at Mores Mountain. This is our opportunity to give back to the places we play and love. We will be out on the trails, improving trail features, removing brush and cleaning up from the many months of use.

Project will be Friday June 23rd at 9:00 am at the Mores Mountain Trailhead, past Bogus Basin Ski Area. If you are interested in carpooling please come to the Bogus Basin Main Offices at 2600 Bogus Basin Rd at 8:00am to ride up.
Gather your friends and family and join us for this one day volunteer event.

We will be out on the trails from 9:00am – 3pm. Please bring
• Water
• Layers
• Work Gloves
• Good walking/hiking shoes
• Loads of smiles and high fives
Winter Wildlands will provide work tools, snacks and high fives right back at cha!

We look forward to a great day in the dirt. If you have any questions about the event please contact Kerry McClay at kmcclay@winterwildlands.org

The Swiveltones Benefit Concert in Boise, ID

The Swiveltones are getting together and rocking the house at the Visual Arts Collective. This legendary product-of-Idaho band brings you original rock-punk-soul infused jams, sure to leave you dancing your heart out.

Proceeds benefit SnowSchool, a program of Winter Wildlands Alliance. Dancing, raffle, drinks. Come down for a great cause and great concert!

Visual Arts Collective

Saturday, April 8th

Doors 8:00p | Show 9:00p

Tickets available HERE

SnowSchool is an unforgettable winter adventure that combines hands-on science education with snowshoe-powered outdoor exploration. Learn more about the program at snowschool.org

Please note this is a 21 and older event.

Questions? Contact Keili Bell at kbell@winterwildlands.org

SnowBall!

Join us for the Second Annual Winter Wildlands Alliance Boulder SnowBall. Live, hard-driving bluegrass music by Rapidgrass, artists, athletes, costumes, craft beer, tacos, aerial dancing… See if your backcountry partners clean up nice in a semi-formal setting. All proceeds benefit our national SnowSchool program, getting more than 30,000 kids outdoors each winter for ecology, hydrology, and snow science workshops.

When: Thursday, February 23, 7 PM

Where: Sanitas Brewing Co., Boulder, CO

More Info: click here

Buy Tickets Now (before they sell out)

Facebook event page here