Public Lands and Waters

LCV works to protect our country’s public lands and waters. We uplift local movements and drive federal action to increase opportunities for all people to experience and feel welcome in our public lands, while turning our public lands into climate change solutions.

Group of people hiking in Castner Range.

Inequitable access to public lands in our country means that not all communities enjoy the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment.

We win policies that both protect nature and share its benefits more equitably with all communities, especially communities of color and Indigenous communities who continue to live with the consequences of this country’s painful legacy of racism and exclusion.
We pushed Congress to provide billions of dollars for national and community parks all across the country by passing the Great American Outdoors Act, helped places of cultural significance like Bears Ears in Utah gain national monument protection, and won a ban on new oil and gas leasing in nearly all of the American Arctic Ocean, a policy we successfully defended in League of Conservation Voters v. Trump.
Today, we continue to fight for more national monuments, like Avi Kwa Ame  in Nevada and Castner Range in Texas, and we continue to educate communities, uplift movements, and work with the Biden Administration and organizations across the country to turn our public lands and waters into solutions to the climate crisis.

How We Fight for Our Public Lands and Waters

Humanity’s ever expanding footprint, loss of natural areas to development, and the climate crisis all strain our natural systems. This puts the water, air, and food supplies upon which every living thing depends in jeopardy. The simplest and most effective way to address this complex crisis is to preserve more healthy lands and waters. That is why LCV is helping to lead the fight to protect 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030 – our part in a global, science-backed effort to protect 30% of Earth’s land and ocean by 2030, dubbed 30×30.

We push Congress and the executive branch to protect more iconic and important habitats through monuments, marine sanctuaries, and other protected public lands and waters. But how we achieve the preservation of 30% of America’s lands and waters is as important as reaching this goal. By educating and engaging the public, the media, and decision-makers on the important role our public lands play in leading the fight towards a clean energy future, we tackle legacy pollution on public lands and build a healthy, sustainable environment for all.

  • Expanding equitable access to nature

    Every community needs access to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. The United States has a painful legacy of racism and exclusion toward Indigenous and communities of color, and natural resource policy is no exception. The ugly history of land theft perpetrated by the federal government on Indigenous tribes, and the persistent disregard for their sovereignty, is perhaps the most glaring example. Yet this pattern of inequity has continued to the present day, including the location of far more industrial development and pollution and less access to nature in and near low-income communities of color. That is why LCV is committed to pursuing policies that both protect nature and share its benefits more equitably with all communities. We also seek to prioritize authentically partnering with and lifting up organizations led by people of color, to ensure that the conservation movement reflects the diversity of our country.

  • Turning our public lands and waters into climate solutions

    While many people think of our country’s public lands as protected from industrial development, the reality is that a staggering amount of drilling and coal mining occurs on them. Nearly one-quarter of all U.S. carbon emissions are generated from energy extracted on public lands and waters. It is time to turn our public lands and waters into solutions to the climate crisis.

    To make this transition, LCV works to stop fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and increase solar, wind, and other forms of clean energy in ways that are supported by the communities impacted by them. We take critically important habitats off the table for drilling and mining. We strategically focus on habitats that are important sources of clean drinking water, outdoor recreation access, fish and wildlife, and cultural uses – like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We also invest in forests, wetlands, mangroves and other areas that safely store carbon pollution in the ground and out of our atmosphere.

  • Creating a more welcoming and inclusive system of public lands

    Our country’s national parks, wildlife refuges, forests and other public lands are a popular source of pride for many people. Unfortunately, they are often inaccessible, unwelcoming, and exclude communities of color, disabled people, low-income communities, Indigenous tribes, and LGBTQ+ communities. LCV seeks to tear down these barriers and create a welcoming, inclusive system of public lands through outreach and policy.

    National parks and other public lands don’t just protect nature; they also preserve and interpret our country’s history. The choice of whose history to preserve has not been equitable, resulting in a disproportionately low number (¼) of national parks and monuments that tell the stories of diverse communities. That is why LCV worked to protect places such as the Stonewall National Monument, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument – and why we continue to advocate for our public lands to tell a more complete story of the United States.

    We are also mindful that our public lands rightfully belong to Indigenous people and have been stewarded by them since time immemorial. We are committed to supporting Tribal Nations’ efforts to foster greater tribal sovereignty as well as co-management and co-stewardship arrangements for our public lands, such as the management structure established for the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

Act Now

Share Your Support For Protecting America’s Arctic

More protections are under consideration for 13 million acres of land in the Western Arctic, home to a vast array of species and miles of untrammeled tundra. It is also home to the Gwich’in Nation, the northernmost Indian Nation in North America. The region is under severe threat from the climate crisis, as it warms at four times the rate of the rest of the world, as well as continued oil and gas development. We must ensure that one of the wildest and most pristine places on Earth is protected. Tell the Biden-Harris administration you support maximum protection for America’s Arctic.

Share Your Support
Snow-covered arctic mountain range

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