We advocate climate solutions, protect places that matter for all people and fight against reckless drilling and mining.
In our work to protect public lands, we draw on a deep knowledge of political and grassroots strategies to focus on a few core issues. These are some of our top priorities.
1. Defending lands and waters that are “Too Wild to Drill”
From the wild frontier of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters-Canoe Area Wilderness, some of America’s most treasured lands and waters are in the crosshairs of fossil fuel and mining interests. If allowed to operate freely, they 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.
The Trump administration and anti-conservationists in Congress and state legislatures have pushed an “energy dominance” agenda that caters to these interests by demanding more drilling and mining in more places, with less oversight and accountability. They are threatening some of the wildest and most culturally significant spots left on the planet.
We fight to defend lands and waters that are simply “too wild to drill” and push lawmakers to adopt measures that manage these places for everyone, not just energy executives.
2. Making our public lands part of the climate solution
Climate change is perhaps the biggest and toughest challenge of our time, and we’ll need every political, technological and social tool at our disposal to confront it. That means aggressively curtailing fossil fuel use and ramping up renewable energy in its place.
But there tends to be a major “blind spot” when we talk about these issues: our public lands. Fossil fuels drilled and mined on public lands account for nearly one-quarter of America’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Under Trump, the federal government is deepening the hole we’re in by offering tens of millions of acres of public land and water for new oil and gas development. If we want to avoid the worst consequences of a warming planet, a key tactic will be swapping those fossil fuel projects for renewable energy development.
We advocate for policies that would sharply reduce emissions from public lands and increase renewable energy development as critical steps in a larger suite of actions to confront the climate crisis.
3. Protecting our wild forests from reckless logging and development
In America’s wildest national forest lands, there are still old-growth trees that have stood for a thousand years. These ancient forests are the Earth’s lungs, kidneys, heart and soul; they pull carbon from the atmosphere, breath out oxygen, filter pollution from drinking water and shelter countless endangered species while offering precious solitude to millions of people.
Aided by the Trump administration and its allies, logging interests are working to disrupt all that with policies that would effectively plunge us back into the 19th century, when forests were seen as little more than a source of fresh lumber and paper. We are working to defend the very wildest forests, making up about 2 percent of the U.S., and preserve laws that guarantee the public a say in what happens to these special places.
4. Standing with Indigenous communities in defense of important cultural sites
We owe the original inhabitants of this continent debts that can never truly be repaid. With policies targeting public lands that are important to Indigenous communities, Trump and other lawmakers are echoing a shameful legacy of spilled blood and broken promises. These attacks range from cutting protections for significant cultural sites in Bears Ears National Monument to encouraging oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge, where the Gwich’in people are fighting to protect their traditional way of life.
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.
5. Supporting parks and shared spaces both big and small
For more than 50 years, America’s shared spaces—ranging from grand, region-spanning landscapes like the Great Smoky Mountains to local hiking trails or the playground around the corner—have been supported by a program that protects lands and waters without burdening taxpayers. This program, called the Land and Water Conservation Fund, has been used to pay for projects in all 50 states plus more than 41,000 state and local projects, and it typically enjoys strong bipartisan support. But despite this track record, politicians frequently try to drain money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s coffers, and it is an annual struggle to make sure the program is paid for.
We are committed to securing permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and ensuring future generations always have the benefit of its support.
6. Empowering all people to experience their public lands
Public lands belong to you, no matter your race, income, gender identity, nationality, language or zip code. Accordingly, everyone should get a chance to enjoy the outdoors--whether you do it at an iconic landscape like the Grand Canyon or a neighborhood park, and whether you spend the time climbing a mountain or simply savoring a little peace and quiet. As long as we take good care of these places, they can sustain us both physically and spiritually.
But actual experience often differs sharply from this ideal. For example, many communities, including some of those most likely to face public health challenges due to lack of fresh air and exercise, don’t have access to reliable transportation that will get them to a hiking trail. And once people set foot in a park or other shared space, they may encounter additional barriers, perhaps in the form of high entrance fees, English-only signs or exhibits that share an incomplete or prejudiced historical narrative. Public lands simply aren’t as democratic or hospitable 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 access those places. We also seek to make recreational activities and public lands equitable and attainable for all people.