Spring Conservation Policy & Advocacy Update Recap

On June 4, 2024 our conservation team shared updates on our policy priorities and how The Mountaineers and partners are advocating for the outdoors. Read our event recap or watch the recording for current and upcoming opportunities to take action to conserve public lands and protect the outdoor experience.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
June 10, 2024
Spring Conservation Policy & Advocacy Update Recap

To continue to grow a community of Mountaineers who adventure with purpose as conservation advocates, we came together virtually on June 4 to share the latest policy updates from our conservation team. As we discussed progress on our federal conservation priorities and how our members can best advocate for the outdoors, we heard your passion for protecting the Northwest’s special outdoor places and creating a better climate future for all. Our members’ dedication to and engagement in conservation drives our staff-led advocacy and encourages us to create more opportunities for our community to learn and advocate together.

View Event Recording

Your Voice Matters

Public lands are changing due soaring visitation, climate change impacts, and lagging land manager budgets. We need more outdoor enthusiasts to advocate on behalf of our lands and waters. With a little time and training, you’ll be well-positioned to make an impact thanks to your knowledge and first-hand experiences of the challenges facing natural landscapes.

In addition to advocating on behalf of our community for policies and initiatives that advance our advocacy agenda - landscape conservation, public lands funding, sustainable outdoor access, and climate action - we regularly amplify opportunities to leverage your voice to advance conservation and recreation policy. Our issues continue to draw bipartisan support in Congress amidst an increasingly divided political landscape. Sharing impactful stories about the outdoors from their constituents is the most powerful way to spur your representatives into action and achieve additional wins for our issues.

To begin advocating and honing your skills, take our Public Lands 101 and Advocacy 101 eLearning courses, which can be accessed from our conservation eLearning page

Take Action

With so much going on in the world of conservation, we’ve curated the most important actions you can take to advance The Mountaineers federal advocacy priorities. Here are the policy updates and action opportunities we shared during the event.

Public Lands Funding - Forest Service Appropriations

Congress passes annual spending bills to fund the government, called appropriations. We advocate for adequate funding for the agencies that manage public lands and waters, including the Forest Service and Parks Service. This funding covers critical things like staffing, pumping toilets, processing permits, trail maintenance, etc. Unfortunately, public lands funding was cut by about 7% in the Fiscal Year 2024 federal budget. We’re beginning to see the effects of that on Washington’s public lands, as the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin will be closed this summer. 

This year, we’re advocating for increased funding for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management because recreation is severely underfunded in those agencies despite increasing visitation to the public lands they manage. Learn more and take action with this advocacy form from our partners at Outdoor Alliance by urging Congress to appropriate proper funding for these agencies.


Landscape Conservation - Protecting the Wild Olympics

For more than a decade, The Mountaineers has worked with a diverse group of partners and coalition members to support Congress in creating more protections for wildlands and scenic rivers surrounding Olympic National Park. The Wild Olympics Bill would protect more than 126,000 acres of federal land managed by the Olympic National Forest. It would also protect clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities by designating 19 new Wild and Scenic Rivers on the forest and in Olympic National Park - the first for the Peninsula.

The bill has passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and we’re cautiously optimistic it could become law by the end of the year as part of a package of public lands bills. You can help continue to build support for this bill by signing the Wild Olympics Coalition petition to help protect the forests and rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.


Sustainable Outdoor Access - Pass the EXPLORE Act 

The Mountaineers is advocating for federal legislation that will improve sustainable and equitable outdoor access by giving land managers new tools and resources to manage recreation. The EXPLORE Act - a bipartisan package of federal recreation bills - includes two of our top priorities. The SOAR Act improves the unpredictable federal recreational permitting system that creates barriers to people who want to experience the outdoors through groups like The Mountaineers. The PARC Act protects access to wilderness climbing and canyoning by affirming the appropriateness of fixed anchors in Wilderness areas - currently a hot topic with land managers at the Forest Service and the Park Service.

EXPLORE passed the House this spring and there’s also bipartisan support for a recreation package in the Senate. You can help make these important improvements to federal recreation management by encouraging Congress to pass the package by the end of the year with our easy action tool. Make your message even more effective by including a personal story that highlights the need for the EXPLORE Act.

Take Action for Sustainable Outdoor Access

Climate Action - Northwest Forest Planning

One of the ways we advocate to protect public lands and the outdoor experience is by engaging in federal land management processes like the Northwest Forest Plan. The plan governs land management on 17 national forests in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California - 24 million acres of land. These forests have changed a lot in the 30 years since the plan was first created; increasingly frequent and intense wildfires leave these forests more vulnerable to climate change.

The Forest Service is currently undergoing a process to amend the plan and address modern challenges like fire resilience and climate adaptation, and The Mountaineers is representing the recreation community during this process. We anticipate the release of a draft environmental impact statement for the amendment this summer. Stay tuned for upcoming events and opportunities to make your voice heard during this planning process. In the meantime, you can learn more about the importance of protecting old growth and mature forests in this blog.

Share Your Feedback

We appreciate the strong interest in our conservation and advocacy efforts by our community, and look forward to future conservation events and engagement opportunities. In the meantime, email us any questions or feedback about The Mountaineers conservation work, land manager issues, or ways you’d like to get involved. Look out for more ways to deepen your engagement in The Mountaineers work in our Conservation Currents newsletter. For a deeper update on conservation and advocacy work, view our 60-minute recording of the event below.

Conservation Currents newsletter