New Campaign Launched to Protect Public Land

20 April 2016 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

WASHINGTON— America’s cherished public lands are under attack, and a new nationwide campaign is taking a stand to keep them in public hands.

With increasing threats to public lands from extremist militants, influential politicians and powerful special-interest funders like the Koch Brothers, nine national and regional conservation organizations today launched a new short film and coordinated campaign to protect our public lands.

Through a petition and social media tools on the website www.protectpubliclands.com, the campaign calls on the millions of Americans who hike, camp, ski, fish, climb, watch wildlife, or otherwise love their public lands to urge elected leaders to reject all attempts to give away, sell, transfer or abuse our nation’s public-lands heritage.

The film, titled “Protect Your Lands,” contrasts the devious threats that national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands face with the tremendous dedication Americans have for these places. Despite polls consistently showing strong public support for protecting and maintaining national public lands, and data demonstrating the enormous economic value of public lands in the form of $646 billion in consumer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs nationwide, 2016 has seen the armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and a rise in legislative proposals seeking to dismantle the nation’s iconic public lands system.

“From lawbreaking militants to influential lobbyists and elected officials working in the halls of Congress, a powerful minority wants to give away America’s priceless natural heritage to be exploited for natural resource extraction or sold off to the highest bidder for private playgrounds,” said Chase Gunnell, communications manager for Conservation Northwest. “What these factions ignore is that Americans love and depend on our public lands. We won’t stand idly by and watch them taken away from us.”

“Threats to our treasured public lands have always been here, but they are gaining traction as extremists infiltrate positions of power,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild. “If everyone who enjoys our public lands stands up and speaks out for our special places these land seizure schemes will fail. If we take them for granted, we just might lose them.”

“This campaign serves notice to the Bundys and the Bishops of the world that our public lands are not for sale,” said Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The vast majority of Americans treasure our public lands and are stepping up to defend them against all efforts to weaken protections and industrialize these special places.”

“America’s lands are for America’s people,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife. “Our public lands provide us with abundant fish and wildlife, clean air and water and countless recreational opportunities and economic benefits. It is our goal to bring all Americans together who share this love for our public lands. Together, we will embrace these treasured places and make it clear that we will not allow industry and other special interests to destroy our nation’s natural heritage. Our lands should always be available for all of us to enjoy.”

“Our public lands were set aside not only for recreation, but also to preserve and protect clean air and water, and maintain unique and diverse ecosystems that contribute to a healthier natural world,” said Susan Kearns, communications director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “It’s time to speak out to honor our Earth and preserve the lands that are our birthright.”

“Public lands in Oregon provided over $4.4 billion in economic output and 27,000 jobs. Anyone looking to divest of public lands is not looking out for the best interests of our natural wonders, not to mention our pocketbooks,” said Joseph Vaile of KS Wild based in southern Oregon.

To demonstrate the overwhelming support for protecting public lands, the organizations will hold more than a dozen rallies, guided hikes, film screenings, happy hours and other events nationwide during Earth Week. A tool on the website allows people who are interested to host or share their own events aimed at keeping America’s public lands in public hands.

The Protect Your Lands campaign is a collaborative effort by nonprofit organizations Conservation Northwest, Oregon Wild, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Bark, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Western Watersheds Project, Defenders of Wildlife, Great Old Broads for Wilderness and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Contacts: Chase Gunnell, Conservation Northwest, (206) 465-8591, chase@conservationnw.org
Randi Spivak, Center for Biological Diversity, (310) 779-4894, rspivak@biologicaldiveristy.org
Sean Stevens, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 ext 211, ss@oregonwild.org
Catalina Tresky, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0253, ctresky@defenders.org
Shelley Silbert, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, (970) 385-9577, shelley@greatoldbroads.org

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