My Civic Workout: Defend our Public Lands

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My Civic Workout: Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep loving, Keep fighting. May 16, 2017

The administration is “reviewing the status” of 27 public lands designated as national monuments: this is their euphemism for seeking to allow drilling and other destructive activities on some of America’s most beautiful wild lands. These monuments also protect wildlife and support the economies of nearby towns by bringing in tourists. The administration is trying to shut out the public by having an absurdly short notice and comment period—only 15 days. We can’t be silenced that easily. Let’s flex those civic muscles and protect our national heritage for future generations. Because submitting a comment is the single most important thing you can do, we’re reversing the order of our usual workout.




30 Minute Workout

Notice and comment is an underused process for everyday Americans to weigh in on important actions by the executive branch. Check out the list of monuments, pick one that’s meaningful to you, and submit a comment using the comment form. Then share your comment on social media and tag @mycivicworkout. To get you started, here’s a sample comment from a friend of MCW.

I encourage you to protect these Monuments so that all Americans can continue to enjoy them in the years and generations to come. Each Monument has a story. Each is a special space belonging to all Americans and with meaning to Americans around the country. I’d like to share some of what the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument specifically means to me and to my family. It is a place that we have returned to many times over the years, enjoying its beauty and taking spiritual solace from our sense of connection to the land and natural world there. My dad first encountered the Escalante 40 years ago (around the time he met my mother – but that’s another story for another time). We returned 20 years ago, when I was a young child, and I still have vivid memories of the beauty of those wild spaces. 5 years ago I spent a summer working on a small farm in Boulder, cherishing the opportunity to be outside in such a beautiful and peaceful place. The protections Escalante-Grand Staircase has as a National Monument are vital to preserving that peace and beauty. They help support a thriving local tourism economy, with the Boulder Mountain Lodge and Hell’s Backbone Grill (where I worked that summer I spent there) depending on visitors like my family who are drawn to the spectacular landscapes. But most importantly, they help preserve those landscapes for all Americans, now and for generations to come. I hope to bring my children to see Calf Creek Falls and Sugarloaf and all the other beautiful places of the Escalante. The National Monument status means I can count on them still being there for us.

Get Started 10 Minute Workout

If you live in a state with a monument, get that cool-down in: call your Senators and House representative. Urge them to stand up for your state’s lands and for the protections on your national monuments. Use the points you made in your comment as your guide for calling.

Get Started 5 Minute Workout

If your state doesn’t have a monument, here’s your cool-down: A bill currently in the Senate lets states decide whether to drill for oil and gas on federal lands. This bill will make it easier to sell our shared inheritance out to private corporations. Call your Senators, and tell them you’re not having it.

Get Started Second Wind

Jonathan Thompson wrote for High Country News last October about the Native American activists who fought to protect the land that is now Bears Ears National Monument.

More than 700 archaeologists, 25 tribal governments and the National Congress of American Indians, along with several local and national environmental and faith-based groups, have endorsed the proposal. “It’s a big healing process for Native Americans,” Maryboy told me last October in Bluff, as morning light illuminated Twin Rocks –– a symbol of the Navajo monster-slaying brothers. “The colonization has been ugly. Protection of this land begins a healing process.” Here in San Juan County, though, the healing has yet to begin. Instead, this fight has torn open old scars, and inflicted a few of its own.

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Join up with people near you who are fighting to protect the environment!’s local groups are dedicated to working to preserve our climate, and the great biodiversity our planet supports. You can see groups near you at

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