Do you like to hike?

Do you like to explore the natural world with your child?

How about fish, do you like fishing?

Or maybe you are a hunter?

A backpacker?

A skier or snowshoe aficionado?

A birder or wildlife watcher?

Enjoy visiting National Parks and Forests?

Do you feel having accessible land that is protected from commercial development or resource extraction has value?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, and I would wager you did, then you need to make a few phone calls. Thanks to a bill, (HR 621), proposed by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R) of Utah, 3 million acres of public lands are in jeopardy of being sold. The states in risk of losing recreation land are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. The public lands in these states have been labeled as “suitable for disposable”. These could be lands on which you recreate. Is your time in the outdoors suitable for disposable? Is your hobby suitable for disposal?

Here is the rub. I need you to call. You need you to call. I understand the apathy that comes with legislation and politics in general. We don’t have a voice; what we say doesn’t matter. I get that. I have felt that. I am guilty of being apathetic and then bitching about things that don’t go the way I want them to go. NOT. THIS. TIME.

Calling can be scary if you have never done it before. I am an introvert. I get the calling jitters too. The thing is, it is really easy! The person that fields the call doesn’t give you flack. You get to express your opinion without hearing from the peanut gallery. You simply identify yourself and read from a script (I will provide one below). There is no rhetoric to hear, only a record of your call.

Here is how to call. We urge you to call your Representative and your Senator.

  1. Find your Congressman & Find your Senator(s)
  2. Repeat a mantra (“My voice is important and it will be heard.”) and take a cleansing breath
  3. Dial the number
  4. Start by introducing yourself, “Hi this Jane Doe and I am a constituent of Senator/Representative’s Doe. I am calling with a concern I have about HR 621.
  5. Continue with your script. This script is courtesy of  BadAss National Park, a rogue twitter account.
    1. Within the district use this: “The public lands in our district are incredibly important and the loss of these public lands would be devastating for our local and state economies. The Department of the Interior estimates that $16.9 billion is spent in local economies across the country from people visiting national lands and over $600 billion in benefits to the outdoor community. Additionally, I hunt/fish/hike/ski/backpack within our public lands; it is the fabric of my family. Loss of public lands would have a profound affect to the mental and physical well-being of all in our outdoor community. I urge Congressman/woman/senator ____ to vote against HR621 to keep much needed revenue and jobs in our communities.”
    2. Outside the district use this: “I am calling Congressman/woman/Senator ____ regarding HR621. I am concerned about the loss of public lands in the State of ____. (Optional: [My family and] I have visited _____ (location in state), we very much enjoyed the national lands that your state had to offer.) I urge your to vote against HR621 to ensure your communities and state continue to reap the many benefits, including a portion of $16.9 billion spent in local economies by people visiting national lands.”
      1. The italicized portion was my personal addition.
  6.  The person you are speaking with will respond; however most of the time he/she will simply say he/she will pass along your concern. It will be recorded as opposed to HR 621. If for some reason, he/she says that the rep does not plan to take action….REPEAT YOUR REQUEST. Do not say ok and hang up. Reiterate why you are inquiring and read your script again. That should work.
  7. Hang up and do a little dance. You did it.
  8. Pick up the phone again and call the next one on your list.

This bill is the tip of the iceberg. Members of Congress have made no attempt to disguise their ambition to sell off our lands. Yes, our lands. National Forests, BLM land, Wilderness Areas, and National Parks all belong to YOU. When Dustin and I open our trusty planning map, we are greeted with millions of acres in which to fish, hunt, and backpack. Our time spent in public lands keeps us strong and happy as a family; they are the heartbeat of our family and our nation. In terms of dollars and cents, public lands are a cash cow. Public lands generate revenue far above the consumable resources found within. At some point we need to realize, these lands are not ours to destroy, we are borrowing them from our future generations.

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” -Alanis Obomsawin

#publiclandsproud #publiclands #ourwild #notforsale

 

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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