Policy Update – January 2023

In this month’s policy update, we share about the biggest updates from DC, our work to protect wintering wildlife, and more.

Photo Credit: Sofia Jaramillo (@sofia_jaramillo5)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (1/31/2023)

2023 is off to a good start, both on and off the snow.

Major Conservation Wins

On January 25, the Department of Agriculture announced that it was restoring protections for the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the nation’s largest National Forest and the world’s largest temperate rainforest. The 2020 Alaska “Roadless” Rule opened up 9.37 million acres of the Tongass to commercial logging and road building. Last week’s announcement capped several years of advocacy and policy work to protect roadless lands on the Tongass.

On January 26, the Interior Department issued Public Land Order 7917 protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from sulfide-ore mining by withdrawing the Boundary Waters watershed from mineral leasing for 20 years. This comes after the Forest Service published an Environmental Analysis finding that sulfide-ore copper mining would irreversibly pollute the Boundary Waters. As with the Tongass, the Boundary Waters mineral withdrawal was the result of a hard-fought advocacy campaign.

Speaking of long campaigns, just this morning the EPA blocked development of the Pebble Mine – not a campaign we’ve worked on but an important environmental win!  The vast majority of our policy work takes years to come to fruition, and this past week illustrated the importance of patience and perseverance.

Protect Wintering Wildlife

Recently we’ve been working with partners in Colorado to develop a simple flyer to educate winter recreationists about the importance of protecting wintering ungulates, and steps anybody can take to reduce their potential impact on wildlife. While the hope is to grow this into a snazzier education campaign down the road, for now we’re in a “soft launch” phase and hoping to spread the message organically. Please consider sharing this blog post or the attached flyer with your supporters (posting the flyer in your local ski shops is also a good way to spread the message). Thank you!