Your Pen Is Our Hiking Stick...
Compose Your Wild Words
Add your voice to the conversation! We want to let our lawmakers know what our public lands-- our wild places-- mean to us as a people! How have public lands shaped you? Why do you choose to visit them? Why is the existence of wild public places important to you and your family?
Make It Personal:
When you write your brief letter make it personal and heartfelt. Don't hesitate to be creative. Use descriptive language and metaphors to paint a picture. We know that many of our lawmakers do not have time to visit and experience public lands the way that we do, and we want to try to bring that experience to them with our voices.
EXAMPLE: When the winters of my life blow cold, I go to public lands and sit among the trees whose names I know, with the birds that sing their songs at sunrise, below the raven who rides the thermals... I sit among these un-human beings and our shared “there-ness.” And for that moment I can feel myself. Alive. Whole. Able. Sane.
Name the places that you go to for sport, recreation, and respite. State the name of the public lands that have shaped you. Give words to the decisions that have been made or are currently being made that concern you about the protection of that place.
EXAMPLE: I write to you from the watershed of the Colorado River--a great North American river that knows its fate lies in your hands. Its clear, cold, and crystalline snow melt from rocky mountain peaks rests inside National Forests, BLM & Wilderness Designations.
Make sure you understand the background of public lands, who the players are, and what happened during the public process, etc. You can find information about public lands in the west at High Country News, or at Wilderness Workshop's Capital Watch. Or visit the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, The National Park Service, National Forest Service websites. Find specific information per your interest via the following advocacy groups: The Wilderness Society (general), The National Park Conservancy Association (general), Great Old Broads for Wilderness (elders), The Access Fund (climbers), The International Mountain Biking Association (bikers).
EXAMPLE: My voice was among the 96% of the 1 million American citizens who made a public comment in support of the preservation of Bears Ears National Monument this past fall.
Don't Have Time To Write?
You can still support our vision by signing our letter.
If a lawmaker, past or present, made noble strides toward protecting public lands that you are passionate about applaud it! We know positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in child development and education, so why not apply it to how we communicate with our lawmakers? Maybe they will listen. Learn about your lawmakers' voting history on land issues in 2016 here.
EXAMPLE: Michael Bennett and Cory Gardner, I applaud you for your opposition against amendment of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which would gut the Antiquities Act.
Out of the 20th and 21st Centuries came a wave of unique American writers-- many of which gave voice to the power of America's vast, diverse, incredible landscape. Don't hesitate to anchor your entire letter off of the words of John Muir, Wallace Stegner, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Terry Tempest Williams, Wendell Berry, and Rebecca Solnit to name only a few.
EXAMPLE: The entireness of a wild place left intact is important to our strung out American souls- “even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope”- thank you Wallace Stegner (Wilderness Letter, 1960) for these words which have never felt truer.
Keep It Simple:
Remember you only have 230 or less words to work with. Take all these tips with a grain of salt and keep your message on point and passionate! If writing a paragraph seems too daunting, write a haiku, cinquain, or limerick.
With work, one can graze
this public land of ours right
and reap the harvest.
Our vast magnificent lands.
Rich public treasure.
managing our public lands,
holds a vital trust.
-From Jane Baxter, Director
A Haiku consists of 3 lines. The first and third lines have 5 syllables. The second line has 7 syllables.