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The U.S. Air Force wants to modify 10 Military Operations Areas (MOAs) that stretch across southern Arizona and southwest New Mexico. We can’t let this military expansion despoil some of America’s wildest country.

The proposal would authorize low-level fighter jet maneuvers and supersonic flights that cause sonic booms above rural and Tribal communities, some of the Southwest’s most fragile sky-island ecosystems, and beloved wilderness areas and national monuments.

The Air Force also wants to permit dropping of flares at lower altitudes, increasing the risk of human-caused wildfires across landscapes already experiencing severe drought. Additionally, the proposal would allow release of aluminum-coated silica “chaff” over public lands, polluting the environment.

Guardians needs your help to stop these proposed actions before fighter jet condensation trails hit the skies. Public comments are being accepted through June 3. You can submit your comments here.

Use these talking points below as a guide for writing your comments. But to make the biggest impact, please use your own voice to convey that the proposed action to optimize ten existing MOAs by the Air Force lacks sufficiently detailed information and as such the Air Force must explain how they will do the following:

  • Evaluate the impacts of extreme noise from low-level and supersonic training on communities (including potential for damage to structures), outdoor recreation economies, livestock, and wildlife (including threatened and endangered species).
  • Assess the wildfire risk from the use of flares at lower elevations and potential military aircraft crashes, develop mitigation measures to reduce the risks, develop realistic plans for fighting a flare-induced or crash-induced fire, and express how public safety will be ensured.
  • Fully assess contamination of air, land, and water from aircraft emissions and release of chaff and flares.
  • Evaluate the environmental justice impacts of this proposal on communities of color and low-income communities, including the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache Tribes, Tohono O’odham Nation, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe. Furthermore, consultation with these Tribes must occur.
  • Provide an analysis of the cumulative impacts of these airspace modifications to communities and wildlife and a plan for how impacts will be mitigated.

This proposal would impact dozens of rural communities, four Tribes, and millions of acres of public lands that sustain ecosystems, water quality, wildlife, and public recreation. So please click here to submit your comments and oppose the Air Force’s plans to despoil the quiet and wildness that you hold dear.

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Guardians is a proud supporter of the inaugural Healthy Public Lands Conference, which will be held June 1-3 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference will offer opportunities to learn more about the current state of public lands in the American West; better understand the laws, regulations, and policies that guide public lands management; and contribute to a collective vision for managing public lands that prioritizes healthy watersheds and ecosystems rather than livestock production.

A partial list of panel topics for the first two days of the conference include Indigenous perspectives on public lands and traditional ecological knowledge, recent science on the impacts of grazing to western ecosystems, the ongoing aridification or “great drying” of the interior West that is happening because of climate change, and the connection between public lands extremists and the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Keynote speakers and panelists are still being finalized, so stay tuned.

There will also be experiential learning, with the third day of the conference devoted to a field trip to a public lands grazing allotment. Attendees will learn how to quantitatively assess the health of public lands with active grazing allotments, how to report those findings to Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service staff, and how to best participate in federal land management decision-making.

Conference sponsors want this event to be available to everyone and are offering sliding scale registration rates. To learn more and to register, click here.

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We’re in a bit of a mood today…

First, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new coalition in Nevada that will end gruesome wildlife-killing contests and cruel trapping on public lands. Silver State Wildlife will harness the power of regional and Nevada-based groups and activists to drag wildlife policies into the 21st century with a healthy dose of science, ethics, and common sense.

The Silver State is a nexus between amazing wildlife, biodiversity, and public lands—and archaic wildlife policy that prioritizes killing over conservation. Nevada’s 96-hour trap check window is by far the longest and cruelest in the American West. This coalition will change that and more.

A Nevada family hiking with their children recently found—and freed—this trapped fox. The Nevada Department of Wildlife later fined them $700. Photo by Bobby Vaske.

Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

But did I mention we’re in a mood?

The Nevada Department of Wildlife just fined a family of hikers who freed the suffering fox pictured above from a leghold trap. Nevada trappers pressured the department into threatening to arrest the Good Samaritans and fining them over $700!

When people are punished for helping the vulnerable and unprotected, that is wrong. The laws need to change. Coexistence and compassion need to lead. And the exploitation of wildlife needs to be left in the dustbin of history.

Here’s what you can do:

Sign the petition to end public lands trapping in Nevada.

• Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, calling out the Nevada Department of Wildlife for penalizing an act of compassion at the behest of trappers. Please keep your letter under 250 words and submit it to the following papers:

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Sun (letters@lasvegassun.com)
Reno Gazette Journal (letters@rgj.com)
Reno News & Review
Nevada Appeal (editor@nevadaappeal.com)
The Nevada Independent (submissions@thenvindy.com)
The Ely Times
Pahrump Valley Times
The Record-Courier (editor@recordcourier.com)
The Humboldt Sun (editorial@winnemuccapublishing.net)
Sierra Nevada Ally (jm@sierranevadaally.org)

Thank you for doing your part to end the war on wildlife in Nevada. And stay tuned for more ways to get involved.

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Guardians and the California Wilderness Coalition have intervened in a lawsuit brought by snowmobiling interests that are challenging the Forest Service’s decision to designate over-snow vehicle (OSV) trails and use areas on the Stanislaus National Forest in California’s Sierra Nevada.

We intervened in the lawsuit because the Forest Service hasn’t properly considered the impacts snowmobiling will have on an isolated remnant population of 18 to 39 Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator), which live within the Stanislaus National Forest in the vicinity of Sonora Pass (elevation 9628’).

Despite its name, the Sierra Nevada red fox can have black, gray or tawny fur (the gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, is a separate species). Its thick, deep winter coat, longer hind feet, and small toe pads completely covered in winter by dense fur make it well-adapted to the cold and deep snows of Sierra Nevada winters. It’s also smaller than the other nine North American subspecies of red fox—males average about 9.5 lbs and females about 7.5 lbs. The smaller stature could be another adaptation that allows it to travel better atop the snow, or it might simply result from the smaller amount of available prey in the subalpine habitat and high-elevation conifer woodlands in which the fox is found. Rodents and snowshoe hare are the fox’s primary food source. With prey limited at this elevation, so is the fox’s population density: 1 fox per 10 square miles.

Because the Sierra Nevada red fox is solitary, nocturnal and lives at in inhospitable elevation, confirmed sightings are extremely rare. As far back as the 1950s, there were only about two confirmed sightings per year. From 1991 until 2010 there were no confirmed sightings, leading some biologists to believe the fox had gone extinct. In 2015, a Sierra Nevada red fox was seen in Yosemite National Park for the first time in almost a century. With so few sightings, recent studies of the fox have relied on scat and hair samples to estimate its population and range, and much of its presumed behavior is taken from other subspecies.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes the isolated population around Sonora Pass as the Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Sierra Nevada red fox, and in August of 2021 designated the DPS as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ESA provides protection to imperiled species, but also extends protections to subspecies and “distinct population segments”—a population or group of populations that are both discrete from other populations and significant to the species as a whole.  The Sonora Pass population is one of only two populations known to exist, and the only population to still inhabit its historical range in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These last few foxes are genetically distinct from another larger DPS found in the southern Cascades of far northern California and southern Oregon. Click here for an interactive map, which shows in green just how small of an area the Sierra Nevada red fox DPS inhabits.

When it listed the Sierra Nevada DPS as endangered, the Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the risk of extinction posed by the population’s small size, and hybridization with nonnative foxes.  Additionally, the Fish and Wildlife Service noted the risk posed by coyotes, which Sierra Nevada red foxes generally try to avoid by occupying snowier, higher-elevation habitats.

The Forest Service’s OSV designations will exacerbate the threats to the fox. The Forest Service’s decision included designating a 411-acre off-trail over-snow vehicle “play area” at Sonora Pass, despite evidence snowmobiles and their loud noise can displace wildlife from normal winter habitat, causing the animals to use limited energy reserves to move to other areas that may have less food and shelter.  Snowmobile use can also limit the availability of foxes’ rodent prey in two ways.  First, snowmobile traffic compacts snow, thereby reducing temperature and available oxygen in the spaces between the ground and the bottom of the snowpack, restricting rodents from those areas or lowering their survival.  Second, snowmobile trails provide coyotes easier access into areas that would otherwise be difficult to access due to deep snow, allowing coyotes to prey on rodents that would otherwise be available as prey for the fox.  Coyotes also kill foxes.

Snowmobile advocates claim the Forest Service’s OSV designations are too restrictive. We’ve intervened in their lawsuit for the opposite reason: because the Forest Service made its area and trail designations without considering the harmful effects of snowmobiles on the few remaining Sierra Nevada red foxes on Sonora Pass.

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Speak up for Wolves: Sign the Petition!

The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our last chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please submit your comment!

Tweet for Lobos!

We’ve assembled eight ready-to-go tweets, complete with inspiring images and a link to the petition. All you have to do is “grab-n-go” to help raise awareness and make a big difference in the defense of the lobos! P.S. These work great on Facebook, too!

Tweet #1
#Wolves keep the Gila wild! Celebrate the 97th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico by urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gila’s most iconic resident—the critically endangered Mexican #wolf: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos #KeepItWild #StopExtinction

 

Tweet #2

Lobos are essential! Mexican gray #wolves are critical ecosystem influencers in the desert Southwest. They keep prey populations healthy and in balance, protect riparian and aquatic resources, and indicate the health of entire ecosystems. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #3

Humans are the largest obstacle to recovering Mexican #wolves. Along with illegal trapping, poaching and vehicular mortalities, politically motivated ‘recovery’ plans have put lobos in a precarious position. Take action to help get #wolf recovery right: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #4

Real recovery for Mexican #wolves would include three distinct, but connected populations. Along with lobos‘ current range in the Greater Gila Bioregion, the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies are identified as prime habitat. Help make it happen: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #5

Mexican #wolves in the wild are, on average, as related as brothers and sisters. Though lobos numbers are slowly increasing, the greatest indicator of a successful #wolf recovery effort is the genetic health of the wild population. Support real recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #6

To truly recover Mexican gray #wolves a new management rule should be based on the best available science and prioritize enhancing the genetic diversity of the wild lobo population. Raise your voice to make sure Mexican #wolf recovery is done right: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #7

Did you know that the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is the most endangered gray #wolf in North America and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world? Tell the @USFWS we need a new management rule that will actually recover Mexican #wolves: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Tweet #8

Almost a century after Aldo Leopold shot a Mexican #wolf in the Gila, only 186 of these wolves exist in the wild. The fierce green fire he saw in the wolf’s eyes still flickers in the #wolves who roam the Greater Gila today. Help support full recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

 

Amplify YOUR Voice for Wolves: Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to share your perspective and encourage others to speak up for lobos. It’s easy, fast, and effective—all you have to do is write your short perspective on why wolves deserve more protections and why the southwest needs more wolves. Be sure to mention that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on wolf management right now and comments can be submitted here: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos

You can submit your letter to your local outlet, or if you are not from the region, submit it to a statewide outlet. Here are direct links to submission forms, note that different papers have different word count limits.

New Mexico

Arizona

LTE Talking Points: Here are key elements of a new lobo management rule that will help truly recover and restore Mexican wolves to their historic range. Please use these talking points as a guideline for drafting your individual LTE, but what’s most important is that your voice and your reason for wanting lobo recovery come through. So, please speak in your own words, but make sure to emphasis the fact that a new Mexican wolf management rule must:

Rescue Mexican wolves from a genetic bottleneck

  • A real genetic rescue entails releasing adult wolf pairs with pups until the wild population of lobos demonstrates adequate genetic diversity improvements. Releasing a set, limited number of wolves into the wild is not a real genetic objective—very few wolves who reach breeding age actually contribute their genes to the wild population.

Allow lobos to roam throughout their historic range

  • Preventing wolves from crossing arbitrary political boundaries like Interstate 40 is unacceptable. In order to truly recover, Mexican wolves need access to suitable habitat in the southern Rockies and the Grand Canyon region.

Designate lobos as “essential”

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the only wild population of Mexican wolves in the U.S. as “non-essential” to the recovery of the species in the wild. Designating this population as “essential” is common sense and crucial to recovery.

Reduce wolf-livestock conflict

  • Wolves are native carnivores highly adapted to the desert southwest. They should not bear the burden of livestock-wildlife conflict when non-native cows are grazing on public lands without protection.

Despite receiving thousands of letters of opposition from many of you, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has so far ignored our call to withdraw a right-of-way across public lands in southwest Utah.

The right-of-way had been granted by the Trump administration, just before it left office, through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area outside St. George—a rapidly sprawling city. Trump’s BLM did this despite clear instruction from Congress in 2009 that Red Cliffs was designated to conserve and protect the plants and wildlife, including the threatened Mojave desert tortoise, that live where the Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau converge.

This past June, Guardians and our partners sued BLM for failing to uphold its responsibilities to manage the Red Cliffs. Construction hasn’t started on the four-lane highway—yet—so the Biden administration still has an opportunity to correct this terrible decision by its predecessors.

To get the Biden administration’s attention, Guardians and allies have created a shared website asking the public to join together to voice its opposition to this destructive and unnecessary highway across fragile desert habitat.

The overall goal is 80,000 signatures. With the help of Guardians’ great supporters, I’m confident we can reach that goal.

Please take action and tell the BLM that the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is too valuable to destroy with a highway.

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When you think of America’s congressionally designated wilderness areas, what comes to mind?

Intact ecosystems teeming with native wildlife and wild places, where people can find solace and solitude in an increasingly fast-paced world? Or aerial gunning, poisoning, and trapping of native wildlife?

The answer should be clear. But unfortunately, the federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services uses our tax dollars to deploy neck snares, foothold traps, “cyanide bombs,” and sharpshooters in helicopters to kill hundreds of thousands of native animals on public lands—even in protected wilderness areas.

We have waged a relentless battle to end this war on wildlife. Over the last five years, litigation against the USDA Wildlife Services by WildEarth Guardians and our allies has resulted in legal victories in Idaho, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Washington—each of them curbing the program’s slaughter of native wildlife and increasing its accountability to the public.

But we aren’t resting until we end this rogue program’s war on wildlife once and for all.

Earlier this month, Guardians and Western Watersheds Project launched a lawsuit challenging Wildlife Services’ expansion of aerial gunning, poisoning, trapping, and shooting of bobcats, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, beavers, and other wildlife on public lands across Nevada, including the potential for killing wildlife on over six million acres of wilderness and wilderness study areas.

With your help and your support, we will have the financial resources we need in 2022 and beyond to defend vulnerable wildlife and ensure that public lands are a refuge for native animals. Can I count on your donation today? As an added bonus, your donation will be matched by another generous supporter.

While society has evolved to understand the importance of native species as a key part of ecosystems and the need for coexistence with wildlife, Wildlife Services continues to rely on antiquated practices from a bygone era when many animals were pushed to the brink of extinction. We demand better from the federal government.

Public lands across the American West are critical for preserving biodiversity and enabling native ecosystems to thrive—they are meant to be wildlife havens, not slaughtering grounds. We must not let the federal government use our tax dollars to slaughter the very creatures that epitomize the wildness of these landscapes.

With your help, we will achieve even more in 2022 to stop Wildlife Services in its tracks! Help fuel our continued fight for coexistence in the new year by making a MATCHED gift of $50, $100, $250 or more to Guardians today.

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Grizzlies, the iconic but imperiled bears of the American West, need places like Wyoming’s Gros Ventre Wilderness. Pronounced “gruh vahnt,” these rugged mountains east of Jackson Hole provide the expansive, undeveloped habitat necessary for grizzly bears to thrive, and for grizzly populations to recover to sustainable levels. But the U.S. Forest Service is on track to introduce a new threat to grizzly bears on what has become their home turf, and we need you to help stop them.

Part of what makes the Gros Ventre Wilderness and surrounding lands—an area known as the Elk Ridge Complex—such a stronghold for grizzlies is the absence of cattle grazing. Every year, grizzlies in Wyoming and other western states are killed to protect the domestic cows and sheep roaming loose in their habitat. But in the Elk Ridge Complex, conservation groups reached voluntary “buyout” agreements with ranchers holding permits to federal grazing allotments. As a result, allotments in the Elk Ridge Complex have been vacant for five years and these public lands have become, once again, a refuge to a growing number of bears.

Now the Forest Service wants to renege on these agreements, which have proven an invaluable tool to protect grizzly bears from being killed due to livestock conflict. The agency is proposing to reauthorize grazing on four vacant allotments: Lime Creek, Rock Creek, Tosi Creek, and Elk Ridge. Together these allotments total 30,577 acres of national forest—13,000 acres of which lie within the Gros Ventre Wilderness boundary.

The Forest Service has prepared a draft environmental assessment to analyze the environmental impacts of this terrible idea. We need you to tell the Forest Service to keep these vacant allotments closed. You can submit your comments via their comment portal here by December 27.

To help make your voice heard, we’ve compiled talking points you can include in your comments to the Forest Service:

  • Re-allowing grazing on the four Elk Ridge Complex allotments is a recipe for disaster for recovering grizzly bears. Already, too many grizzlies are killed in response to conflicts with livestock. Placing cows on these now-vacant allotments invites conflict, which will cause more bears to be killed.
  • The Forest Service needs to honor voluntary, cooperative allotment buyouts. The Elk Ridge Complex allotments have been vacant for five years, and in that time have become important habitat for grizzly bears and other native wildlife. Allowing cattle on these allotments would violate these agreements, undo important protections for grizzly, and have a chilling effect on the use of this important conservation tool going forward.
  • There is no need for grazing on the Elk Ridge Complex allotments. In the draft environmental assessment, the Forest Service has not demonstrated any need for opening the Lime Creek, Rock Creek, Tosi Creek, and Elk Ridge grazing allotments.
  • The Forest Service has not articulated how it would manage the Elk Ridge Complex allotments. In the draft environmental assessment, the Forest Service has not considered any specific grazing scenarios. As a consequence, the public has no understanding of the number of livestock that will be grazed, areas of use, the capacity of the range to support livestock, and other details necessary to ensure the agency takes the requisite “hard look” at the effects of its proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Forest Service needs to know you support grizzly bears, keeping Wilderness wild, and oppose restocking vacant livestock grazing allotments in the heart of their range. Please submit your comments by December 27.

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In 2015, WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for the Rockies, and Friends of the Wild Swan—represented by attorney Matt Bishop at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC)—entered into a settlement agreement with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) to ensure that appropriate protection measures would be implemented to avoid the incidental killing of Canada lynx in the state.

Notably, the settlement agreement provided that snares should not be permitted in two designated lynx recovery zones, areas that represent a significant chunk of western and southwestern Montana, including areas outside of Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.

In August 2021, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission—clearly ignoring the terms of the settlement—issued new regulations for the killing of wolves that not only expanded trapping in the state but, for the first time, allowed for the use of snares to kill wolves throughout the state.

In late September 2021, our attorney from WELC sent a letter to the state of Montana informing it that its new regulations on wolf snaring were in defiance of this lynx legal settlement. We also threatened to renew litigation if changes were not made immediately. In response, in late October, the Montana Fish and Commission was forced to update its wolf regulations and not allow wolf snaring on public lands in two large regions of Montana where wolves reside, generally the expansive public lands south and west of Glacier National Park and north of Yellowstone National Park (see map below). This late re-convening of the Commission and issuance of the new rule came about as a direct result of our 2015 settlement and our threats to sue the state of Montana for its clear breach of settlement terms.

As a result of our 2015 settlement, and tenacity in ensuring its terms were continued to be followed by the state, Guardians and our allies were able to secure a huge, impactful win for wolves on the ground in Montana right now. Distribution maps indicate that many of the wolves in Montana live in the “designated lynx recovery zone” areas.

As snaring is one of the easiest (and cruelest) ways for hunters to kill wolves, the late regulatory change—a month in advance of trapping season—will, undoubtedly, save the lives of hundreds of wolves this year. While we continue to fight on multiple fronts to relist wolves in the Northern Rockies, thanks to the creative strategic decisions made by WELC, in partnership with Guardians, Alliance for the Rockies, and Friends of the Wild Swan, we are able to have some on-the-ground impact for wolves this year.

This is just another example of how we are leaving no stone unturned to save the gray wolf. And we can’t do this work without you. We’re extremely grateful that over 8,700 Guardians members and supporters spoke up this summer when the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission was accepting public comments. You and your fellow Guardians have also given generously to our Wolf Defense Fund, providing us with the critical resources needed to wage this battle for wolves in the courts, in Washington, D.C., and at the state level across the West. Together, we will save wolves.

No snaring of wolves will be allowed in the lynx protection zones shaded in blue on this map, a significant development in our work to save wolves in Montana. Map by MTFWP.

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My activist side made its first strong appearance in my life after I learned about industrial fishing as a senior in high school in Littleton, Colorado. As I researched ocean conservation for my senior project, I couldn’t believe what I was learning. For example, a longline, which is one method of large-scale fishing, stretches for two or three miles and is covered in thousands of hooks that kill non-target species like dolphins, turtles, seabirds, and sharks as it is dragged through the open ocean. Shark finning (imagine a shark being hauled out of the water and having its fins sliced off and then being tossed back into the water to drown or be eaten alive) accounts for up to 100 million sharks killed annually. Fin meat fetches a high price (at least $300 or $400 per pound), making it economically disadvantageous to lug an entire body back to land when one can just cut off the fins. I didn’t know much then, but I knew at a gut level that this wasn’t right.

Learning about the need for environmental advocacy as a teenager changed the entire course of my life. Getting involved in advocacy at a young age gave me direction and purpose; it connected me more to my community, from the people down my street to the people across the world. In my family, I earned the nickname “captain environment.” At the time, I had no idea that ten years in the future I would be a lawyer with WildEarth Guardians, using the law to give a voice to the voiceless and protect our wildlife, our wildlands, our water, our atmosphere, and our air.

My journey was windy and uncertain, but my passion never wavered. Every step was somehow connected to the bigger question always in my mind: how can we protect the planet long-term? In the intervening years between the start of my advocacy at 17 and law school, I worked as a side-walk fundraiser with Greenpeace, at a few vegetarian cafés, in an analytical laboratory, traveled the world working on small farms, and became a professional scuba diver. Each adventure helped me connect to the planet in a new way, and to different people and cultures. I wanted to understand how others interacted with the natural world and figure out how to communicate with them effectively. I attended protests, created petitions, made speeches at rallies, created advocacy-based Halloween costumes (my favorite was a Zom-bee, raising awareness for the plight of bees), and talked to people in my community about the small actions we can each take every day to help.

The outrage I felt senior year of high school when I learned about the pillaging of our oceans led me to a degree in Marine Science in Hawai`i. I wanted to be an ocean advocate more than anything, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. I thought science was the way but after four years knew that was not my path—I was frustrated with where I felt science ended and where policy-making began. Three years later, I ended up at Lewis and Clark Law School getting a degree in environmental law. I had no idea what I was doing—I barely understood how the government functioned. But I used the skills I had been cultivating. I networked, I got to know the people who were doing what I wanted to do, I learned and researched, and this led me to WildEarth Guardians.

My work with Guardians started during my second year of law school. I attended an event and met the Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for Guardians. I offered to volunteer my time, and she took me under her wing and quickly introduced me to our Wildlife program litigator. My work with them included helping with a legal complaint focused on protecting several imperiled fish in Colorado, doing research for other wildlife lawsuits, attending hearings at the state capital building, and lobbying state representatives for pro-wildlife legislation. I learned about the opaque federal agency called Wildlife Services that wholesale kills our native wildlife, reminiscent of the destruction caused by longline fishing. I read the data about our federal government killing hundreds of thousands of animals annually, and again, I felt outraged—how could this be happening?

WildEarth Guardians is suing Wildlife Services all over the west because Guardians knows that this should not be happening. Working as a lawyer with Guardians gives me the chance to be a voice for the voiceless, and that is why I came back as a legal fellow after graduating from law school. I knew when I was 17 years old that there was no path for me other than one where I stand up to the powers that be and say this isn’t right.

If you are reading this and you have ever felt the outrage I am talking about, and had the urge to scream, “this isn’t right!” I want you to know that the path of environmental advocacy does not need to be traditional, does not need to be linear, does not need to be your career, and does not require fancy degrees. Environmental advocacy can be a conversation in a living room with a friend about something that matters to you, it can be attending a protest or sharing information on social media. It can be becoming ‘captain environment’ in your household and telling someone not to leave the water running in the sink. We are environmental advocates because of what it means to each of us individually, and your unique individual contribution is what the world needs, however and whenever that takes shape.

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