Our first virtual lobby day for the Tongass National Forest

At Alaska Wilderness League, “your land, your voice” is one of our guiding principles. And now more than ever we need you to use your voice on behalf of our public lands in Alaska. But this time, we’re using a new format!

Over the last few months, we have worked hard to find new ways to elevate your voices and concerns to the decision-makers that matter, even as the Trump administration has continued its attacks on Alaska during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while we might not be able to gather in Washington, D.C., for an energetic lobby day fly-in, or hold in-person meetings at your local district offices, we can still get our message heard by your local representatives — online!

Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA) and league staffer Monica Scherer enjoy a constituent’s photo of a halibut caught in the Tongass National Forest. (Alaska Wilderness League)

And that’s just what we did for the Tongass National Forest, as more than 60 Alaska Wilderness League members signed up to participate in 15 lobby meetings on our August 12 “virtual lobby day.” Their goal was to ask their members of Congress to co-sponsor the Roadless Area Conservation Act (RACA), legislation that will protect old-growth areas in the Tongass that the Trump administration wants to open up to logging.

Two days earlier, Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a champion of efforts to protect the Tongass and the lead sponsor for RACA in the U.S. House of Representatives, kicked off a “virtual lobby day” training by welcoming everyone and thanking them for their efforts to increase support for the bill. We then shared with participants an issue briefing that included the latest threats facing the Tongass and why increasing support for RACA is so critical at this moment. From Maine to Washington, and many states in between, energetic constituents joined League staff to share why they want to see the Tongass protected.

With in-person meetings not currently possible, platforms like Zoom, conferences calls and Skype are the tools of 2020 that have allowed us to have impactful meetings with congressional offices that illustrate why the Tongass National Forest is important to so many of us around the country.

Constituents in Minnesota meet with Rep. Phillips office

Thank you to everyone who participated, lent their voice and their passion, and helped make a difference. We will continue to create new and innovative ways that will allow us to hold the line, push back against any attempts to defile Alaska’s public lands and waters, and enable our members and supporters to make a difference.