Policy Update – Feb 2021

Avalanche safety, Protect America’s Wilderness Act Plus, and Secretary of the Interior Confirmation Hearing

Photo Credit: Kyle Crichton (On the ancestral lands of the Abenaki, Wabanaki, and other Nations)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (2/23/2021)

Avalanche Safety

February has been a sobering month for backcountry recreationists, as it has seen more avalanche fatalities than any other month in recent history. From Utah to Colorado to Montana to California to Alaska to New Hampshire: our thoughts are with the family, friends, rescuers, and everyone else involved. This season’s weak snowpack continues to make conditions dangerous across the nation, so please remember to play it safe, ski kind, and encourage others to do the same.

Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus

Happier news out of DC: the House has introduced eight bills to protect public lands in a package they are calling Protecting America’s Wilderness Act Plus (PAW+).

PAW+ is an expanded version of a package we worked with our Outdoor Alliance partners to advance last year. It includes the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act, Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act, Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Colorado Wilderness Act of 2020, Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, and the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act.

The House votes on this package the week of February 21! For more information and a form that makes it easy for you to contact your Representative, check out this Outdoor Alliance blog post.

*Update from 2/26/2021: The House passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (PAW+)! We’re one step closer to protecting 4 million acres of public lands, enhancing equitable access to the outdoors, benefiting public health and economic recovery, and addressing climate change. Next stop: Senate. Tell your lawmakers to pass public lands protections for millions of wild landscapes in Colorado, Washington, California, and Arizona. Once you’re done with that, thank your representatives that made this happen.

Secretary of the Interior Confirmation Hearing

We’re also paying close attention to the Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearings during the last week of February. Haaland was nominated by President Biden to be the next Secretary of Interior and now she has to be confirmed by the Senate. We think Haaland is an excellent choice for Interior Secretary, and we urge you to write your Senators today to ask them to vote YES on her confirmation.

Update 2/26/2021: We expect Deb Haaland to be confirmed on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Join Us

This season, while challenging, has provided the opportunity for our backcountry community to come together and share in what we cherish: our wild winter experience.

If you’re able, we’d love to have you as a member of the Alliance. Your work directly supports these monthly updates, our on-going policy campaigns and initiatives, and so much more. Read more here and sign up today!

Until next time: keep winter wild!

– Hilary