It's Crunch Time! Tell Congress to Invest in Climate & Public Lands

Congress is on the precipice of passing once-in-a-generation legislation to protect climate and public lands. Learn more about what’s being proposed and take action.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
September 22, 2021

Lately you’ve heard from us about historic opportunities to tackle climate change and invest in public lands through upcoming infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills. Now it’s crunch time: Congress is on the precipice of passing once-in-a-generation legislation to protect climate and public lands. How big Congress decides to go is still very much in the air, so this is a critical time to share your priorities with your senators and representatives.

What’s going on in Congress?


Infrastructure Bill

For the past few months, Congress has been debating several proposals to put people back to work and invest in our communities. Last month, the Senate passed an infrastructure package that includes $1.2 trillion for a wide range of infrastructure priorities. For public lands and waters in particular, it funds climate and clean energy solutions, coastal restoration, and forest restoration and resilience priorities. We’re especially excited about $250 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails program, which will provide funding to help maintain roads and trails on Forest Service lands.

Budget Reconciliation

Meanwhile, Congress is also working on a budget reconciliation package that will include larger-scale climate and conservation investments. The Senate can pass reconciliation bills with a simple majority vote rather than the usual 60 votes, so it’s likely that the reconciliation package could include more meaningful investments in climate and public lands. 

Current Status

Right now, committees in the House and Senate are writing their portions of the budget reconciliation bill. Once the package is put together, both chambers of Congress will vote. If the two versions are different, then Congressional leaders will reconcile them and come up with compromise legislation. At the same time, the House has promised to vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill by September 27. If they amend the Senate bill at all, then it will also need to be reconciled between the two chambers. 

Is your head spinning yet? While there’s a lot of moving pieces, one thing is for certain: it’s crunch time. Lawmakers will be finalizing the legislation in the coming weeks. Now is the time for you to share your priorities with lawmakers before it’s too late.

Take Action 

Our Priorities


Climate

We believe that Congress has a historic opportunity to prioritize meaningful climate action in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. The recent United Nations report underscored the urgency of passing bold climate action before it’s too late - and this is the best chance we’ve had in decades to address the climate crisis. This legislation could majorly cut carbon pollution and advance equitable climate solutions. But negotiations are still ongoing, and it remains to be seen whether the legislation will tackle this crisis with the urgency it deserves. 

Public Lands

The House version of the budget reconciliation bill contains significant investments to make our public lands and waters more resilient to climate change and wildfire. As we saw this summer, our public lands are increasingly threatened by the intensifying effects of climate change. Extreme heat, drought, and decades of underinvestment in forest management have made forests in Washington State and across the country vulnerable to devastating wildfires.

We’re also excited that the House version protects critical landscapes in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from oil and gas leasing, by repealing the ANWR oil and gas program. Protecting the Arctic has been a longstanding focus of Braided River, the conservation imprint of Mountaineers Books.

Equitable Outdoor Access

Urban parks and green space are not only important to help ensure equitable access to the outdoors, but also help make urban spaces more resilient to the effects of climate change. The House version of the reconciliation bill includes millions of dollars for grants to help economically disadvantaged areas lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities create new parks and green spaces. 

Civilian Climate Corps

We’re especially excited about the potential for a 21st century version of the Civilian Conservation Corps to put people to work on climate and public lands projects. With the need to create jobs and invest in communities following the pandemic, public lands needing greater investment after decades of underfunding, and no shortage of work to do to tackle the climate crisis, establishing a modern Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) is a win-win-win. 

A large-scale government investment in a CCC could give land managers and outdoor recreation groups more resources to protect public lands from climate change and overuse impacts. The Mountaineers is working with our partners at Outdoor Alliance to ensure that recreation projects are included on the list of work to be tackled, since sustainable recreation projects often dovetail with goals like minimizing erosion, improving water quality, managing visitor impacts, and protecting sensitive species. 

Take Action

A lot of things we care about - from meaningful climate action and investing in public lands - are hanging in the balance. Fortunately, most members of our Washington State Congressional delegation are supportive of these bills, but they need to hear from the outdoor community to ensure that climate and public lands are prioritized. With many moving pieces and competing priorities, your representatives need to hear from you. 

Take a few minutes to send a message to your members of Congress using our easy action tool - it just takes two minutes. Please personalize the text to include the priorities that you care about most.

Take Action


We appreciate working with our partners at OUTDOOR ALLIANCE on this issue.

Main Image of a Mountaineers climb of Whitman Crest. Photo by Skye Stoury.