Hike It, Save It: Next Steps

Feeling inspired by your hike? Here's how to protect more land.
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Feeling inspired by your hike? Here's how to protect more land.

Volunteer, Join, Donate

Support conservation groups that target your favored wilderness issues.

Go small All politics is local, they say, and none more so than environmental politics. Regional groups laser in on specific areas, build a network of activists, develop campaigns that resonate with the community, and cultivate relationships with key officials. You can show support at government meetings, recruit new members, distribute literature, document natural treasures, do trail work, and more.

Go big National players like the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, and Earthjustice
often have regional chapters with local expertise, but they also perform valuable legal wrangling at the federal level, such as petitioning specific drilling leases or advocating for an endangered species. And for global issues, like climate change, these are the organizations that build coalitions and generate media-savvy mainstream campaigns.

Be Heard

Use the power of your voice. It's simple and effective. The idea is to "thank and spank" lawmakers. Show support when they vote your interests–and disapproval when they don't.

Email campaigns are easy and offer instant gratification. But avoid cutting and pasting boilerplate messages; your passion will come out in your natural voice. A great use of email: Write a letter to the editor that highlights the issue and mentions the stance (good or bad) of the appropriate elected official. Publicity-hungry politicians constantly troll the media for their names–they'll take notice.

Hand-written letters pack a powerful message because they indicate a deep level of commitment. A smart strategy: Collect letters and send them from different mailboxes over a series of days. The result: a steady stream of support for your project instead of one big dump.

A barrage of phone calls can't be ignored. Keep key numbers stored in your cell phone so you can make calls when you have down time: while driving, riding a commuter train, or waiting for a doctor's appointment.

Run a Smart Campaign

1. Tap state power Even if your goal is federal wilderness designation, don't ignore state governors. They have great leverage to influence Congressional legislators.

2. Show it off Assemble a photo portfolio of the area's scenic highlights. Most lawmakers will never visit a proposed wilderness, and your images will open their eyes to what's really at stake. Likewise, avoid acronyms like ANWR. The full name reminds people that it's a wildlife refuge, not a government agency.

3. Find common ground Your campaign will benefit from diverse groups–hikers, hunters, horsepackers, bikers, geocachers, Boy Scouts–by showing legislators and opponents that it has broad demographic support.

Get Contacts Fast

Go to sierraclub.org, find the "Take Action" page, and enter a zip code. Instantly get phone, email, and address details for that area's elected federal legislators.