DC Trip to Protect Public Lands

Desert Lands Focus of Washington Visit

Our public lands team with CA Dist. 8 Congressman Paul Cook.
Last month, the Conservation Lands Foundation sent a coalition of public lands groups to Washington DC. I was fortunate to join, and meet with our congressional offices about public lands. Friends of the Inyo has a long history working to protect the California desert. With recent administrative attacks it was a perfect time to meet with congressional staff and touch on current threats and opportunities.
From hearing rooms to hallways to cafeterias, our meetings took place just about everywhere. Our packed three-day agenda consisted of a visit to the Senate building to meet Feinstein and Harris’s staffs. With our California representatives, we asked for help defending the Desert Plan (aka Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan) and brief these offices on the recent Conglomerate Mesa developments.
We are anticipating the release of recommendations from Dept of Interior on the Desert Plan next month, so being in D.C. was a great place to exchange information about what to expect and when. We also discussed Feinstein’s and Cook’s Desert Bills (S.32, HR.587) which we are helping to usher into the final stages. This legislation will protect the Alabama Hills as the first National Scenic Area in the National Conservation Lands System and add acreage to Death Valley National Park.
We then made the trek to the three House buildings, which contain the offices of 435 House Representatives. We met with Representatives in desert districts affected by the Desert Plan and the desert bills. A local and diverse voice from the desert was our team’s collective strength. The outdoor business industry, Latino, Native American and hunting communities were in the same room sharing stories about our connections to public lands. We conveyed the message that users of public lands should reflect the diversity of our nation and represent all Americans.

It is an empowering experience bringing your history and stories to decision makers at the Capitol. These days we are awash in critically important issues and as dozens of Congressional staff in each office track many issues it is important they are also hearing about public lands, the people who rely on them, and the assault against them. DC fly ins are about meeting people face to face and developing relationships that can last years. If you cannot travel to DC rest assured Friends of the Inyo is elevating our local issues to Congress.