Our public lands, water, and wildlife are for all Americans to enjoy and protect.
Throughout its century-plus history, the Sierra Club has been at the forefront of the movement to protect America's wild places, and the beauty, escape, clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities they provide. The Our Wild America campaign will work to create a national network of connected wild lands and marine areas to preserve America's natural, cultural, and recreational heritage.
For generations, family bonds and friendships have been forged and solidified on our public lands -- on the trail, around the campfire or the picnic table, casting a fishing line into a clear-flowing stream, watching the Milky Way wheel overhead at night. It doesn't take a Harvard study to confirm that spending time outdoors is good for your physical and mental health (although studies confirm exactly that.) Whether on foot, bicycle, horseback or car-camping, America's public lands are where we come together to be restored and inspired by the natural world.
The concept of designated parks and wilderness -- identifying and protecting public lands for their inherent value as wild, undeveloped places -- is an original American idea. Yellowstone was the world's first national park, and protecting wild places is part of our national legacy. But today our public lands face unprecedented challenges, from pollution to development to mining and drilling -- all of which exacerbate climate disruption.
We need to expand our national network of protected wild places and keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground on our public lands. And we're succeeding. In February, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar placed 11 million acres of pristine wildlife habitat in the western Arctic's National Petroleum Reserve off-limits to oil and gas leasing. Also in February, in large part due to relentless pressure from the Sierra Club and its allies, Shell Oil announced it would postpone any drilling plans in the Arctic for at least a year. In March, President Obama signed into law five new national monuments. In April, a federal judge ruled with the Sierra Club in revoking a fracking permit on public lands in two California counties. In May, the Bureau of Land Management -- which oversees by far the most land of any federal agency -- announced it was postponing any new oil and gas lease sales in California for the remainder of 2013.
Let's keep the momentum going! Our Wild America will work to advance four key goals:
- Protect public lands and marine resources from destructive mining and drilling
- Protect vulnerable wildlife by preserving and expanding habitat
- Expand opportunities for all Americans to explore and enjoy nature by conserving and restoring tracts of natural lands near densely-populated areas
- Protect and restore wild forests