In mid-June, staff from Guardians’ Wildlife and Wild Places programs, along with our Conservation Director, all dropped into the swamp of Washington, D.C. to have our voices be heard. The humidity and heat added to the swamp-like feel, as did the insane tweets, executive orders, and voting related to immigrants and refugees. We all recognized the challenge of talking to legislators about banning M-44s and funding national forest restoration when children were being separated from their parents at the border, but it seemed like most staffers welcomed a distraction from the Trump-induced chaos.
Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner Michelle Lute, Wildlife Program Director Bethany Cotton, and Conservation Director Sarah McMillan organized with several allies to begin educating offices about M-44 “cyanide bombs,” in the hopes that they can push legislation in the spring for an outright ban. They also had meetings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.
Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager Marlies Wierenga tag-teamed with The Wilderness Society to unearth why Legacy Roads and Trails was relegated to report language in the appropriations bills and to seek a fix that would preserve the program. Rewilding Attorney Marla Fox jumped in on a few of those meetings, too, but led the charge at the U.S. Forest Service headquarters, where she lined up numerous meetings (including with Interim Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen) to talk about NEPA streamlining, the Endangered Species Act, and roads.
The company of the women of Guardians made long days far more bearable as we ate dinner together, strategized, shared stories, laughed, and even ran into each other in the marble corridors or lightless basements. I think we’d all agree that future D.C. trips across programs are a great idea!