As we go to the polls on November 8, we all have the opportunity to make a difference in preserving the outdoor experiences we enjoy.
We rely on public lands for access to our favorite forests, peaks, and waterways—for solitude, adventure, and spiritual renewal. They are ours because citizens spoke up for their protection, and in most instances, these lands were conserved through the actions of representatives elected by people like you and me.
The crown jewel of national forests in the eastern United States, the White Mountain National Forest, was the result of advocacy both by citizens and by AMC. But it was the Weeks Act, passed by Congress in 1911, that provided the enabling legislation that led to the creation of eastern national forests.
Likewise, properties secured through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA)—places like the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Mid-Atlantic Highlands—became lands for the people through legislation supported and passed by elected officials.
As we go to the polls, it is our responsibility to know who is on the ballot and the issues for which they stand. Regardless of party affiliation, we can all do the research necessary to know who stands with the environment and the future of the outdoors. Conservation of open space, protection of clean air, and sensible energy policies should not be partisan issues.
While all eyes are on the upcoming election, a raft of conservation issues must be dealt with in this year’s lame-duck session. Chief among our concerns is the need for full and permanent funding for LWCF and reauthorization of HCA. LWCF is now operating on a limited three-year extension after 50 years of bipartisan support and success in protecting public land. HCA was allowed to expire in 2014, despite its important role in designating federal resources for land conservation in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
We were encouraged by the strong, bipartisan U.S. Senate vote reauthorizing LWCF earlier this year and the Senate’s recent vote in support of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. We encourage the U.S. House of Representatives to act in like fashion this year, giving this nationally significant watershed much-needed support and recognition.
We also support adoption by the EPA of a strong haze rule to reduce the particulate air pollution that impacts hikers’ health and obscures scenic mountain views. We continue to support Clean Air Act provisions and the EPA’s ability to implement them, and we look for a federal budget that contains no anti-clean-air riders.
Finally, as the budget process unfolds, we call for robust appropriations to support the management of public lands and related recreation programs, as well as the maintenance of trails in our national parks and forests.
I encourage you to contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to get the job done, conserving our nation’s wild and awe-inspiring places outdoors.
CALL TO ACTION