We work to protect wild nature for the benefit of all people, confronting and mitigating the effects of the climate crisis
In our work, we draw on a deep knowledge of political and grassroots strategies to focus on a few core issues. These are our top priorities.
Making public lands part of the climate solution
For generations, the federal government has been treating public lands and waters largely as a source of oil, gas and coal. This means shared spaces that are supposed to benefit all of us are instead managed in a way that helps powerful special interests while driving the climate crisis. Fossil fuels drilled and mined on public lands account for nearly one-quarter of America’s total greenhouse gas emissions, while only a small fraction of our publicly owned renewable energy resources have been tapped.
We advocate for policies that would achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands by sharply reducing fossil fuel development; ramping up responsible wind, solar and geothermal energy projects that avoid sensitive habitat and important cultural sites; and restoring and protecting landscapes to absorb climate emissions and help communities and species adapt.
If we change the way we manage public lands, they can become part of the climate solution instead of part of the climate problem. We must do so in a way that supports front-line communities, including low-income people, Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color. These communities have been disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, and yet have historically been denied a seat at the table when it comes to important policy decisions, even as their communities face climate change-linked threats like heat waves and major storms.
Protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters
From the wild frontier of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to New Mexico’s Chaco Cultural National Historical Park to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters-Canoe Area Wilderness, some of America’s most treasured lands, waters and cultural sites are in the crosshairs of fossil fuel, mining or other development interests. If allowed to operate freely, these forces will leave behind permanently scarred and pollution-tarnished landscapes and waterways—and history tells us that communities on the front lines will be left to clean up their toxic mess. Climate change is only increasing the pressure on these places, and time is running out to save them.
We are working with partners to protect at least 30 percent of all U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030. These efforts prioritize large, interconnected landscapes that will help species and communities adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change as well as important cultural and historical sites. We’re pushing lawmakers to adopt measures that put these exceptional lands and waters off limits to development and manage them in a way that incorporates both the latest science and traditional or communal knowledge.
As part of this effort we support measures to defend, restore and strengthen protections for important cultural sites and we stand with Indigenous peoples as they uphold and safeguard their ancestral traditions and homelands.
Ensuring people equitably benefit from wild nature and public lands
Wild nature, including public parks and lands both large and small, belong to everyone. But actual experience often differs sharply from this ideal. For example, communities of color are often left out of decision-making that directly impacts their communities and then have to make do with smaller, more crowded and even “less green” parks and open spaces. And once Black people, Indigenous people or other people of color set foot in a park or other shared space, they may face racial bias. Public lands—and the outdoors in general--simply aren’t as equitable, accessible and welcoming as they should be.
We work to support and protect open space, including close to the urban areas where most people live, and enact programs that help communities enjoy health and other benefits from those places. We also support the efforts of civil rights and social justice partners in building a more inclusive conservation movement.