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Stand Up and Vote for Public Lands

Happy election year!

You may be asking what’s so great about it, considering there’s an international pandemic, systemic racism and bigotry, not to mention our crumbling national infrastructure and deferred maintenance backlog of our national parks, and mistreatment of our public servants and park rangers. Do I dare go on?

These reasons are EXACTLY why this greeting is important. We should be elated and driven knowing this is the year YOU can do something about it. We have the opportunity to make national parks and our public lands part of the important and larger conversation of equality and conservation.

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Did you know, right now in Congress, there are major pieces of legislation directly affecting national parks and public lands?

The Great American Outdoors Act establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands, as well as makes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent.

As a former political staffer, an activist, and a consistent voter, here’s some information I’d love more people to know:

When you call or write your elected officials, always use a personal narrative to show your support for your topic. 

When I worked as a staffer for various elected officials, we always had a tally sheet next to the phone with a list of topics constituents would call/email/write about. At the end of each day, those tallies went to the “boss” and we were all made aware of hot topics. Individually, we were more likely to engage with or remember the calls from those who didn’t give a structured answer dictated by an organization or form letter. Sure the numbers were there, but the personal interactions had the most sway. Personal stories about how a position would affect you or your passion can have a great effect.

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Yes, you should be calling/emailing/writing your elected officials.

It really does make a difference. And when you introduce yourself, always state that you are a constituent and a voter, always be positive and enthusiastic about your cause, and stay away from partisan politics. Make valid points, use statistics or economic facts to make the point stronger.

With all this rhetoric happening, how do I know who to vote for?

This is where your civic duty might take a bit of your free time. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read each candidate’s website; most localities have a non-partisan League of Women Voters with excellent information on candidates and issues. Can’t find the answers you’re looking for? Call the campaign and ask. Better yet, show up to an event and talk to the candidate yourself. Who knows, you may be the catalyst they needed!

Register to vote and actually vote.

Especially this year, don’t be that person.

What else can I do?

There are plenty of organizations fighting the good fight on the political front, and you should (if you haven’t already) donate and become an active member, including:

National Parks Conservation Association

Public Lands Alliance

Wilderness Society

Center for Western Priorities

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Political campaigns (both candidate and issue-based) are comprised of three things: people, time, and money. If you can donate any or all of these to the cause, we can all benefit in the protection of our public lands.

Stay active, be aware of local land issues in your area, and stand up and vote for public lands!

In solidarity,

#VoteParks

www.nationalparkpatchlady.com

IG: @nationalparkpatchlady

FB: https://www.facebook.com/NationalParkPatchLady

Header photo by Sandra Ramos

After 20 years in public service, working on campaigns for members of Congress, Sandra Ramos decided to hang up her hat. Shortly thereafter, she fell in love with national parks, but the love of politics and policy never left. She nerds out daily to a Google alert of national park news, and she wants to activate the incredible voices of national park enthusiasts to #VoteParks.

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