Conservation Leaders Work to Expand the National Conservation Lands
After three days with local conservation leaders from around the nation, it is easy to be excited about the future prospects for the National Conservation Lands. Alongside dozens of local Friends groups working to protect and restore their units of the System, this year’s Rendezvous brought together representatives from more than ten local campaigns to expand our National Conservation Lands.
From the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks of Southern New Mexico, to the Boulder White Clouds of Idaho, to the rugged Stornetta Public Lands of the California Coast, the diversity of lands Friends are working to protect is paralleled only by the diversity of community voices spearheading these campaigns. Business leaders, sportsman, tribes, youth advocates, and recreationists – just to name a few – have built creative and inclusive campaigns that reflect their communities and the values of their local public lands.
Case in point is an effort in Southeast Utah lead by the Utah Diné Bikéyah, a Navajo organization formed to secure protection for ancestral lands on Cedar Mesa, now managed by the BLM. Cedar Mesa and its surroundings include the largest collection of unprotected cultural resources on BLM managed land and is a critically important region to Navajo, Pueblo and other Tribal communities of the Southwest
In recognition of their ongoing efforts, the Diné Bikéyah were awarded CLF’s 2013 Conservation Leadership Award for their efforts to find a path forward to protect Cedar Mesa in southeastern Utah. The Diné Bikéyah have combined elder knowledge, conservation biology, and grassroots outreach to craft visionary proposal for federal protection. From their painstaking efforts has emerged a promising, innovative effort to break the historic cycle of animosity and gridlock in the management of the region’s public lands.
CLF congratulates the Utah Diné Bikéyah, and all of the Friends working to expand our National Conservation Lands for their inspired leadership and inclusive advocacy.