May 2023: Protect Zilker Park and Barton Springs 
Dear Austin City Councilmembers,
Please protect Zilker Park and Barton Springs. This is the one of the best public spaces (if not THE best) that Austin has to offer. It is a space that residents like myself enjoy year-round - not just for a music festival that happens just two weekends out of the year. So much of Austin has changed due to overdevelopment and corporate greed, and to see Zilker Park and Barton Springs at risk is extremely concerning and heartbreaking. 
The Zilker Park Vision Plan is so misaligned with the city's values and immediate needs and it is certainly out of step with the current climate crises our entire world is facing. We are at a pivotal moment in history and it is so critical that decision makers understand the importance of preserving (and even rewilding) natural spaces (instead of developing them to suit our recreational "needs").
I'm writing to demand a new vision plan - one that doesn't involve putting public land in private hands; one that doesn't involve building underground parking garages right next to Barton Springs in an environmentally sensitive recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer; one that doesn't involve more pavement and construction of a massive amphitheater. This is not what the people want. Public spaces are not meant to generate profit. Please vote no on the current Zilker Park Vision Plan. 
This city council has the opportunity to accept the honor and responsibility of championing the preservation of the iconic and irreplaceable Zilker Park. Please take this decision very seriously and consider the long-term impacts your vote will have.
February 2023: Save Fairfield Lake State Park from closure 
*mostly written by Environment Texas
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) recently announced that Fairfield Lake State Park would close to the public at the end of the month. TPWD has tried and failed to purchase the land on which the park is located, but the owner -- power company Vistra -- has instead reached a deal to sell the land to real estate developer Todd Interests to build a golf course and gated community.
It's unfortunate that Todd Interests has thus far refused to negotiate with TPWD over saving the park and that eminent domain must now be contemplated. But this park has been open to the public for almost 50 years, during which the state made $72 million of improvements.
There's no shortage of golf courses and gated communities in Texas. There is a shortage, however, of public wild land so we should be doing everything we can to protect the existing state parks that we have.
I urge the legislature to use all options in their power to save Fairfield Lake State Park and keep it safe from development.
January 2023: Please scrap the draft Zilker Park Vision Plan
*partially written by Save Our Springs Alliance
Dear Mayor Watson, Austin City Council Members, Parks Board, and Parks Staff,

I am very concerned about the draft Zilker Park Vision Plan. It seems so misaligned with the city's values and immediate needs and it is certainly out of step with the current climate crises our entire world is facing. We are at a pivotal moment in history and it is so critical that decision makers understand the importance of preserving (and even rewilding) natural spaces (instead of developing them to suit our recreational "needs").

Please direct Parks Staff and the Parks Board to scrap the draft plan for the following reasons:

1. WATER and CLIMATE: First and foremost, it is clear that the plan's “ecological uplift” does not protect Barton Springs or Barton Creek. This should have been THE top consideration for the vision plan, along with making Zilker Park a centerpiece of implementing Austin's Climate Equity Plan. Protecting the springs, the creek and the climate is completely missing from the draft plan.  

2. PARKING: The proposed garages are horribly expensive and climate disasters. Delete all 3 or 4 from the plan and utilize existing area garages and circulators instead.

3. PRIVATIZATION: The proposed management "Conservancy" is a bad answer to chronic underfunding of the Parks Department. Council should fully fund the Parks Department. This plan suffers badly from outsized influence by corporate donors and commercial interests. This conservancy would institutionalize that bias and destroy the park for the public.

4. MOPAC AND SPORTS DON’T MIX: Moving organized sports next to MOPAC to preserve the Great Lawn for big events only makes sense for the LiveNation/Ticketmaster monopoly that controls ACL and the Trail of Lights.  Saving the Great Lawn for great corporate events is unacceptable.

5. COSTS: The financial and environmental costs are way too high -- and mostly hidden in the draft plan.  Bridges, the land bridge, various proposed commercial facilities in the park including garages, concession areas, and a visitor center are all expensive and totally unnecessary. Limited funds should be spent on the immediate priorities of protecting Barton Springs and our climate and providing city dwellers with access to nature.

6. IMPACT ON OTHER PARKS AND OVERALL EQUITY: Vast spending to develop Zilker pulls funding from other City parks that need better pools, maintenance, enforcement and basic park services.  PARD is tragically underfunded. This plan would throw tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars at Zilker Park while we are told we "can't afford" to pay lifeguards and other staff or provide basic park services in parks across the city.  

Please put Zilker Park planning back into the hands of the Parks Board and the community.  The private park planners delivered a plan for Zilker Park commercial interests and not for the public.  
June 2022: Letter of support for the sustainable management of Texas mountain lions
*partially written by Texans for Mountain Lions
Mountain lions in Texas are a nongame species that can be trapped and hunted year-round without any harvest limits, hunting seasons, or any requirement to report harvest. Mountain lions are included as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Texas and ranked between Imperiled and Vulnerable. Yet, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) does not have a mountain lion management plan. 
TPWD can and should make changes to conserve mountain lions, to the benefit of both Texans and Texas ecosystems. It’s time for TPWD to manage mountain lions in Texas and this can be done while respecting the ranching and hunting heritage that is the foundation for wildlife conservation in our great state.
Please support the Texans for Mountain Lions' Petition for Rulemaking submitted to TPWD.  The petition requests that TPWD adopt the following policies and actions for mountain lion management in Texas: 
1. Conduct research to identify the size, status, and distribution of mountain lions in Texas.
2. Require harvest reporting.
3. Require 36-hour trap check times, consistent with furbearer trapping regulations.
4. Ban canned hunting of mountain lions (i.e., killing lions that have been restricted from movement through capture or injury)
5. Limit harvest in South Texas to 5 or fewer mountain lions until TPWD can determine the population size and status in that area and establish sustainable hunting limits.
6. Require TPWD to form a stakeholder advisory group that will collaborate with TPWD to establish a management plan with regional regulations for the hunting and trapping of mountain lions in Texas.
The current mountain lion plan in Texas, or lack thereof, is not sustainable. We must create a management plan for mountain lions that is rooted in science. Mountain lions play a critical role in maintaining biodiversity, which we rely on for everything – our food, water, health, stable climate, and even our economy. The absence of mountain lions presents many issues, such as the overpopulation of deer, which can lead to problems like overgrazing, increased deer-vehicle collisions, and even rapid spread of diseases. 
Mountain lions in Texas are already facing drought and severe habitat loss due to increased development and expansion. Please consider these requests and implement these changes to conserve this critical species that Texans and our ecosystems depend on. Thank you.
January 2022: Protect the Tongass under the Roadless Rule
*partially written by the Sitka Conservation Society
My name is Danielle Hargett. I have never visited the Tongass National Forest, nor have I visited Alaska. But I don't need to have visited in order to understand how critical it is that the Tongass be protected from development. I'm from Texas, a state with predominantly private land, but I just spent the past four years living in Tucson, Arizona, a city hugged by public land from nearly every corner. Now that I am living in Texas again, I can't help but see the destruction that human development has caused to the land and precious ecosystems that native species depend on to survive. This land here in Texas, modified to fit the needs and wants of humans, will never look the same. What does this have to do with the Tongass? Human development is one of the leading causes of climate change and the extinction crisis. We simply cannot continue ripping apart and changing landscapes to meet our industrial, recreational, transportation or fossil fuel needs. I am a constituent writing to express my support for the USDA Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy and the reinstatement of the Roadless Rule on the Tongass National Forest. Southeast Alaska is a unique, carbon sequestering stronghold that is the home to Indigenous communities, innovative solutions, and ecosystems that are still wild and abundant. The Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy and the Roadless Rule will help protect the Tongass National Forest, promote food security, biodiversity, economic resiliency, and tribal sovereignty in and across Southeast Alaska, and help our entire nation address the climate crisis.

The Tongass National Forest was created on the homelands of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people. The landscape remains an important source of traditional and wild foods, playing an important role in Southeast Alaskan resiliency, food security, and Alaska Native culture. The forest’s unique climate as a temperate rainforest provides habitat for bears, deer, all five species of Pacific salmon, tremendous old growth and generally an abundance of rich biodiversity, which has fostered strong fishing and tourism economies in the region. The forest also sequesters 8% of annual US carbon emissions, and is important for our nation to meet its climate goals. The entire planet depends on the health and wellbeing of natural, undeveloped lands like the Tongass. The Tongass is one of America’s largest old growth forest and one of the world’s biggest carbon sinks. We are in the middle of a climate crisis so it is critical that we act accordingly.

In the Tongass, the 2001 Roadless Rule protects over 9 million acres of land that Southeast Alaskans depend on for fishing, hunting, recreating, carbon sequestration, and practicing their traditional ways of life. Despite providing consistent protections and permitting sensible development to proceed on the Tongass for over a decade, the Roadless Rule continues to be endangered without a broader shift in Forest Service management. Thus, it is critical that the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy is implemented concurrently with the re-application of the Roadless Rule, so that the Forest Service is managing the region for the diverse values that it holds with a short and long-term vision for prosperity. I am supportive of the direction of the SASS to end large-scale old growth logging and invest in habitat restoration, recreation, and climate resiliency of our communities.

The Biden administration has prioritized addressing racial inequity, the climate crisis, and our economic recovery. Implementing the Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy and restoring the Roadless Rule to the Tongass will help make these goals a reality on the ground. It will strengthen our climate defense by protecting the single carbon sink in the United States, storing more than forty percent of all the carbon stored in American national forests. It will respond to the needs and concerns outlined by twelve of the region’s federally recognized tribes, which petitioned for the return of the Roadless Rule and implementation of a management approach that protects traditional homelands and cultural resources. Finally, it will invest in the economic future of Southeast Alaska, which depends on strong fisheries, beautiful vistas enjoyed by tourists, local value-added wood processing, clean oceans for mariculture, opportunities for renewable energy development, and training the next generation of land stewards in Southeast Alaska’s communities. Native communities have been stewards of Southeast Alaska for thousands of years. I think we should be asking and honoring what they envision for the future of the Tongass region.
Please do all in your power to permanently protect this incredibly biodiverse and culturally significant source of resiliency for Southeast Alaska, and for our country. 
December 2021: Rep McCaul, please co-sponsor the Migratory Bird Protection Act
Dear Representative McCaul,
I am a Biodiversity Ambassador writing to urge you to become a cosponsor of H.R. 4833, the Migratory Bird Protection Act. This legislation strengthens our nation’s most important law for conserving birds, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), by reaffirming and expanding longstanding federal protections for birds against harmful industrial activities. 
Bird populations in North America are facing devastating declines. A stunning 3 billion birds have disappeared from the continent since 1970, and nearly two-thirds of North American birds are threatened by climate change. Habitat destruction, collisions with windows, pollution, oil spills and more are pushing bird species toward extinction. The MBTA, which implements our international treaty commitments to protect birds, has been a critical tool for saving millions of birds from these threats. 
However, in December 2017, the previous administration released a sweeping reinterpretation of the century-old law, declaring that it does not cover incidental take – the unintentional but predictable and avoidable killing of birds – caused by industrial activities. This policy change was widely opposed by former senior Interior Department officials from both republican and democratic administrations, multiple states and tribes, and hundreds of organizations. While the current administration has rescinded the reinterpretation and announced steps to strengthen the MBTA, the near-gutting of this critical law highlights the fragility of migratory bird protections. 
H.R. 4833 complements the administration’s recent actions by codifying protections for migratory birds against incidental take and establishing an incidental take permitting program to provide regulatory certainty to industry so long as they follow best management practices to avoid bird deaths. This important and reasonable approach would provide greater clarity to industry while advancing bird conservation and strengthening the MBTA against future attacks.  
As someone who has lived in both Texas and Southern Arizona, I have had the pleasure and privilege to be visited by birds who travel thousands of miles every year. I have awed over Sandhill Cranes who have flown from as far as Siberia and listened to the calls of majestic Elegant Trogons who have flown all the way from Central America. Not only are these - and many other - migratory birds a joy to bear witness to, they are also essential to maintaining a healthy, biodiverse world. Each bird species plays a critical role in the ecosystems they live in. Migratory birds provide pest control, essential plant pollination and serve as food sources for other wildlife. All of the causes linked to plummeting bird populations (oil spills, habitat destruction, collisions with windows and even outdoor cats) are linked to human activity, which is why it is imperative that we step up to protect them from further population losses. 
Our nation’s birds are facing an extinction crisis like never before. To ensure the MBTA and the birds it protects are safeguarded for decades, I urge you to become a cosponsor of H.R. 4833.
October 2021: USFWS: Relist the Gray Wolf on the Endangered Species List
Please relist the gray wolf to the endangered species list. They should never have been removed in the first place as the Trump administration delisted them without the required consultation with tribal communities. Furthermore, the Trump administration's reasoning that these wolves no longer needed protections because they had exceeded recovery population goals is simply not true and does not align with what scientists and experts on this matter are saying. 
The recovery goals, which were set 35 years ago, were too low at the time and don't account for the many changes that our world has seen due to climate change. Climate change directly affects wolves in many ways, like species range shifts, prey migration and limited or lack of access to water due to drought. The effects of climate change are only going to get worse and the last thing we should be doing is opening up a hunting free for all on these animals that can actually serve as a climate change buffer, as we've seen in Yellowstone National Park since they were reintroduced in 1995. 
The return of wolves in Yellowstone has changed elk behavior by keeping them on the move. This has allowed young willow and aspen trees to survive when they were previously being browsed on by elk. With these plants now thriving, beaver populations are recovering and are making the entire ecosystem healthier. This is just one example of how cause-and-effect relationships affect an entire ecosystem. 
In addition to this status review, the US Fish and Wildlife Service should implement an emergency pause on the gray wolf delisting so that consultation with tribal nations can occur before even more wolves are slaughtered. The wolf is an integral part of tribal nations as it shapes their communities, beliefs, customs and traditions.
Biodiversity loss is one of the largest threats that our world is facing right now. We are in the midst of a human-caused sixth mass extinction so we should be doing everything we can to protect those species that are endangered and threatened. Please relist wolves on the endangered species list. 
​​​​​​October 2021: Senator Sinema, please pass the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act!*
*partially written by Defenders of Wildlife
Please support the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act. This bill will transform our nation’s response to the climate and ecological crises while safeguarding young people and future generations. Biodiversity loss and climate change are our biggest threats right now and the future of our world depends on how we act today. As a representative of the people of Arizona, one of the fastest warming states in the country, it is so critical that you prioritize the issue of climate change as the effects of it, which we are already seeing today, will only grow more and more severe. (Please see the Sixth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was released in August 2021: This is our best chance under the Biden Administration to pass something that meets the moment of the compounding ecological, climate, and economic crises. As your constituent, I am asking you to please support the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act and stand up for communities and the future of our planet.
 September 2021: Oppose Bureau of Land Management's Lease Sale*
*partially written by Frack Off Greater Chaco
Millions of people and the world’s leading scientists have called for drastically ramping down fossil fuel development in order to avoid more catastrophic climate devastation. President Biden pledged to ban new oil and gas leasing; yet, the Bureau of Land Management is moving forward with a February 2022 lease sale of more than 740,000 acres across 10 states for more oil and gas drilling. This action directly contradicts Executive Order 14008 to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad and will continue to propagate resource colonization and energy sacrifice zones at a time when addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental justice should be priority.

The Department of the Interior has yet to complete its review of the federal oil and gas leasing program and has admitted the federal fossil fuels program is in need of fundamental reforms to adequately account for environmental harms to the climate, lands, waters, and communities. 

The proposed lease sales stand to impact a range of environmental justice, public health, natural resource, and wildlife issues. With the climate crisis worsening by the day, the Department of the Interior should cancel the February 2022 lease sale, and all future lease sales, to avoid more catastrophic climate events. The U.S. federal government needs to serve and prioritize the health and safety of people and communities, not continue to prop up a dirty fossil fuel industry responsible for the climate crisis. 

We are already feeling the effects of climate change and the last thing we need to be doing is destroying our public lands (and sacred Indigenous land) for a short sighted financial gain. 
August 2021: Oppose the proposed I-11 (west option) in Southern Arizona
I am writing to strongly oppose the proposed freeway West option in Avra Valley right next to Saguaro National Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono O'odham tribal lands, and other important protected open spaces. This freeway would be a disaster for rural communities in Avra Valley and Sonoran Desert wildlife and their habitat and linkages.

I would also like to request a 90-day extension for the community to review and provide feedback on the I-11 interstate. Tucsonans and the Tohono O'odham community (whose land this proposed highway would cut through) need adequate time to review and make their voices heard. The FEIS is 5,800 pages long (including appendices) and 30 days is simply not enough time for public review.
August 2021: Oppose the Small Tracts Act Sale
As a resident of Tucson, mountain biker and avid hiker, I have visited and cycled in the Patagonia area - specifically along Harshaw Road - and enjoyed the rich biodiversity this region consists of. I am concerned to hear that the US Forest Service is considering selling additional land in this area to Arizona Minerals Incorporated/South32, especially without consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and with Native tribes who live on this land and have deep ties to the area's rich history.

This is an ecologically sensitive area with habitat that supports many endangered and threatened wildlife, including jaguar and ocelots, so consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service is critical in order to understand how South32's presence and activity will affect them. 

Mining activity in this area will certainly have a major impact on the watershed. The dumping and pumping of water (which will amount to 1.6 billion gallons per year) will require drawing from groundwater in an already water-scarce region. It will also lead to the pollution of this precious water. As a Tucsonan, I'm especially concerned for the impacts this will have on Sonoita Creek, a major tributary to the Santa Cruz River, which flows north to Tucson.  

So before selling this land to a subsidiary of an international corporation that has no stake or interest in the health and wellbeing of this fragile ecosystem, please consider at least consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Native tribes to fully understand both the effects of Arizona Minerals Incorporated's potential activity and whether or not this sale is truly "in the public interest." 
February 2021: Not Another Foot*
*written by Defenders of Wildlife
Dear Representative Kirkpatrick,
As a Defender of Wildlife, I urge you to support efforts to cancel all funding for border wall construction, to provide funding to remove existing segments that obstruct the natural movement of North American wildlife, and to restore equal protection under the law to the borderlands. 
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation that officially ended the “national emergency” along the U.S.-Mexico border. The President’s proclamation also paused construction and directed a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall. I’m asking you now to support several imminent measures on behalf of human and wildlife communities along the Southern border, in particular: 
• Urge the Biden administration to immediately cancel all border wall contracts and divert remaining funds to other purposes, including removing harmful wall sections and mitigating damage caused by the wall; 
• Urge the Biden administration to restore equal protection under the law to the borderlands by rescinding waivers of law issued for wall construction under the authority provided by the REAL ID Act of 2005;
• Support funding to remove wall segments that threaten to harm people, communities, wildlife and/or the land and restore fragile and ecologically sensitive areas that have been harmed by wall construction; 

• Support efforts to move towards responsible, humane border management, and promote unity and harmony between Mexico and the United States; 
• Repeal Section 102 of the Real ID Act, which gives any sitting president the authority to waive any and all laws in order to construct border wall.
Most Americans oppose the imposition of walls along the Mexico-U.S. border. Border walls and border wall construction cause immense harm to wildlife, private and public lands, and livelihoods of the people who live, work and recreate here. The devastation spans hundreds of miles of the borderlands region, one that is culturally and biologically diverse, includes vibrant communities, beautiful landscapes and rivers, and many threatened and endangered species. According to the Washington Post, ending construction of the border wall would mean a net savings of $2.6 billion for the U.S. Treasury. 
Please work with border communities, Native American Tribes, NGO and other elected officials to restore wildlife habitat connectivity and restore equal protection under the law to our borderland’s human and wildlife communities.
January 2021: Oppose Arizona HB2248
It is clear that this bill was written in an effort to block the potential for the ACC’s new set of energy rules, which would set Arizona on a path to be carbon neutral by 2050. This would progress Arizona forward in the right direction of pursuing more clean, renewable energy from sources like the sun, which our state sees an abundance of. The new rules would also likely result in lower energy bills for Arizona residents. To deny this opportunity for the state is irresponsible, short-sighted and a disservice to all Arizonans.
Our state has the opportunity to once again serve as a clean energy leader in the country. According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020, solar is now the cheapest electricity in history. As the sunniest state in the country, why would we not take advantage of this?
I am not an energy expert. I am simply stating the facts available to me. The good news is we have experts on the Arizona Corporation Commission who were elected to make energy-related decisions such as this. So please leave the decision to vote on the new set of energy rules to the ACC. A yes on HB2248 ignores the expertise of the ACC, will forego Arizona's chance of serving as a clean energy leader and will negatively impact the health and economic wellbeing of all Arizona citizens.
January 2021: Prevent Resolution Copper from acquiring Oak Flat
Dear Mr. Stausholm and Mr. Thompson, 
As you are aware, the US Forest Service is bowing to political pressure from the Trump Administration to give your subsidiary, Resolution Copper (who wants to build a block cave copper mine), the sacred Oak Flat within the Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District before a new US President is sworn in on January 20. To this end, the US Forest Service has announced that they will be publishing a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on January 15.  This will trigger a 60-day time clock which was made law through lobbying efforts by your company and their allies in Congress. 
This highly controversial project would involve the transfer of 2,200 acres (890 hectares) of Tonto National Forest lands out of public ownership and convey them to your company for development of a copper mine that would result in a crater 1,000 feet (305 meters) deep and two miles (3.2 kilometers) wide.  The project would cause the complete physical destruction of a federally-recognized Traditional Cultural Property (the Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District ) that is critical to the survival of centuries-old Apache religious and cultural practices, including the girls' coming-of-age ceremony known as the Sunrise Dance, which is still being held there today.  In broader terms, the project would destroy the entirety of Oak Flat and significant surrounding lands.  Oak Flat, located about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Phoenix, Arizona, is a major natural, scenic, and recreational area with a free public campground and world-class rock climbing opportunities as well as springs, riparian areas, and important habitat for threatened and endangered species. 
If the land exchange is consummated, you will be given title to a Native American sacred site, that is also a recreational and ecological haven, but you will not receive any permits to mine.
After your company blew up sacred rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia in May 2020, less than a year ago, you said, “We are committed to learning from this event to ensure the destruction of heritage sites of such exceptional archaeological and cultural significance never occurs again.” As the new CEO, Mr. Stausholm, you may not want to start your term with stealing Oak Flat from the American public following the Juukan Gorge debacle, after opening it by saying, “I am also acutely aware of the need to restore trust with Traditional Owners and our other stakeholders, which I view as a key priority for the company.”
In light of these eloquent words, instead of taking title to Oak Flat, you should abandon the project entirely as your mining plan calls for the total destruction of most of the Chí’chil Biłdagoteel Historic District, a federally recognized sacred site which you pledged that Rio Tinto would never do again. Your company is not even sure it can mine at Oak Flat and is planning to do a feasibility study (which should have been done years ago). In light of the current problems you have with the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, the harsh topographical and meteorological conditions at Oak Flat, and the lack of water in the region, it is highly unlikely that a mine at Oak Flat would be successful. The Resolution Copper project is a failed experiment in all respects and for the sake of your company and your shareholders, the ethical and prudent thing to do is to simply walk away from the project and certainly not to take title to the land.
We ask you to direct Rio Tinto to not allow Resolution Copper to move forward with the acquisition of the sacred Oak Flat and to abandon the project. Does Rio Tinto really want to be the first and only foreign mining company to take title to a Native American sacred site now publicly protected as well as causing the largest privatization of recreational public land opportunities in US history?
January 2021: Oak Flat: Request for new Environmental Impact Statement 
Dear Chief Christiansen,
Oak Flat is a sacred recreational and ecological haven on public land managed by your agency in the Tonto National Forest an hour east of Phoenix, Arizona. Mining companies have long coveted Oak Flat, but until Resolution Copper lobbied a land exchange rider into law in 2014, Oak Flat was protected from mining for the past 65 years. Your agency has been preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on a proposal by Resolution Copper, a company wholly owned by the world’s two largest mining companies, to build a large copper mine that would destroy Oak Flat and thousands more acres of precious land.  Earlier this year, because of delays in studies and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forest Service decided to set the target date for a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) at December 2021.  However, apparently due to political pressure, the Forest Service is now rushing to release the FEIS on January 15, 2021, accelerating the scheduled release by early a year.
While in most cases the publication of a FEIS would not, in itself, be critical, but because of language in the Oak Flat land exchange law, this publication will trigger a 60-day deadline to turn over Oak Flat to Resolution Copper. Since the release of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement a year ago, so much new information and so many changes to the project have occurred, that a new or supplemental EIS must be written before an FEIS is released. There is no reason to rush to publish an incomplete document of this importance other than to please this foreign mining company.
Some of the information that must be reviewed in a new draft or supplemental EIS includes: The Forest Service is far from completing a robust Programmatic Agreement (PA) that is required to comply with US cultural preservation laws. On December 15, 2020,  the president's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation sent a letter to the Forest Service asking for a complete reworking of the PA process.  This reworked process must be complete to inform pertinent sections of the FEIS. There are many unanswered questions remaining about the viability and safety of the Forest Service’s decision to move the tailings dump needed to store billions of gallons of toxic waste to the Dripping Springs watershed and the public has not been provided a good faith opportunity to comment on the location of the tailings facility and related infrastructure routes. Although mitigating all of the massive damage caused by the proposed mine is impossible, the Forest Service is still required to provide mitigation measures to lessen the damage.  These mitigation measures are incomplete.
The appraisals required to make sure the land exchange is not a rip-off to the American taxpayer are far from complete.  By law, the appraisals must be released to the public before the land exchange can be completed. Once the FEIS is released, the company is planning to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether a mine is possible.  The company should have written a feasibility study years ago and should be required to provide a completed feasibility study for analysis in a new draft or supplemental EIS.
The entire Resolution Copper proposal is a failed experiment.  There is no guarantee that if Resolution Copper is given Oak Flat, they would even be able to build a mine. In fact, Resolution Copper says that they don’t yet know whether the project is even feasible.  Oak Flat is too important and precious to trade away for pipe dreams and promises.
I thank you in advance for writing a new draft or supplemental EIS to inform an FEIS that is completed in good faith and is ethically, legally, and scientifically sound.
December 2020: Notice of receipt of application and proposed incidental harassment authorization for Polar Bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
Dear FWS Director Aurelia Skipwith, 
I’m writing you from one of the fastest warming cities in the country – Tucson, Arizona – about a region even more sensitive to climate change: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Why should I care about land that is more than 4,000 miles away from me? Science shows that Alaska has been warming twice as quickly as the global average since the mid-1900’s and faster than any other US state ( More oil drilling will compound the devastating impacts already being felt from climate change in the Arctic. The Arctic is ground zero for climate change and the state and wellbeing of it is connected to the entire world, not just a “small part of Alaska’s 1002 Area.” Drilling there is irresponsible, short-sighted, and entirely neglects the findings of sound science.  Not only is drilling in ANWR catastrophic for climate change, doing so will threaten species like the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear, wolves, migratory birds, and the Porcupine caribou herd, a species that 9,000 Native Gwich’in peoples rely on for their way of life. Protecting the caribou is a matter of basic human rights for the Gwich’in peoples.   
I am strongly opposed to the Fish and Wildlife Service's draft Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA), which allows for the incidental harassment of polar bears due to seismic exploration on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain.  Seismic exploration on any areas of the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain is incompatible with the survival of the Southern Beaufort Sea Polar Bear population, one of the most imperiled polar bear populations on the globe. The coastal plain provides critical onshore denning habitat for these imperiled bears and is becoming increasingly integral to their survival as climate change drives sea ice loss and forces more polar bears ashore to give birth and raise their young. Seismic exploration could lead to the crushing of bears in their dens by 90,000-pound thumper trucks and could cause mother polar bears to abandon their maternal dens, leaving their cubs to perish. With the Southern Beaufort Sea population numbering around 900 individuals, the survival of every polar bear cub, and protection of critical denning habitat, is essential to save this population from extinction.  
Despite the ecological significance of the coastal plain, even FWS’s suspect draft IHA admits there is a 21% chance that seismic exploration will cause serious polar bear injury or fatality and that 28% of all wintertime encounters between the seismic project and polar bears are expected to result in disturbance. Moreover, the draft explains that many polar bear dens cannot be detected, yet it assumes that no dens will be run over by the many large seismic vehicles that will explore for oil and gas deposits by making a grid pattern throughout the bear’s denning habitat. FWS should not make this dangerous and questionable assumption. 
I urge FWS to deny the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation’s request for an IHA permit to conduct seismic testing on the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain. Seismic exploration is highly destructive to lands and wildlife and cannot be done in denning areas without risk of serious injury or death to polar bears. It is inconsistent with conserving and recovering this imperiled species. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is meant to protect public lands and the habitat that they provide. With as few as 900 polar bears left, we can't afford the death of a single bear to fossil fuel development. 
September 2020: Reconsider the new proposed definition of “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act*
*partially written by Defenders of Wildlife
Dear US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service,

As a Defenders of Wildlife supporter and resident of Tucson, Arizona (the ancestral lands of the Tohono O'odham people), I urge you to reconsider the recently proposed rule narrowly defining "habitat" under the Endangered Species Act. Instead of these flawed proposals, the Services should adopt a workable, conservation-minded definition of habitat that draws on science and policy research and reflects urgency for a robust solution that meets the purposes of the ESA and can be readily applied. 

Why should we care about habitat for endangered species? The obvious is that these species need clean water and food just as we do as humans. As the human population grows and continues to develop/look for nonrenewable energy sources throughout the country, it is so important that we advocate for all species (especially those who are most imperiled). Unfortunately, the Services' most recent proposed rule (85 Fed. Reg. 47,333 (Aug. 5, 2020)) would limit rather than enhance their ability to conserve species that may require habitat restoration or that may find their historic range shifting as a result of climate change. I live in the Sonoran Desert - a fragile area already experiencing extreme effects of climate change, including threats to jaguars, jaguarundis, and ocelots populations. Further development in the habitats of these species will only further habitat fragmentation and further threaten their populations.
I recommend that habitat be defined as “the area or type of site where a species naturally occurs or that it depends on directly or indirectly to carry out its life processes, or where a species formerly occurred or has the potential to occur and carry out its life processes in the foreseeable future.” This definition is consistent with the ESA’s conservation purpose because it allows for factors such as restoration and climate change and recognizes that a species’ habitat must be considered to the horizon of the foreseeable future. 
Please reconsider this narrow and inadequate definition of habitat. 
July 2020: Reject Pendley’s appointment
Dear Senator Sinema,
William Perry Pendley is a direct threat to our public lands and needs to have a confirmation hearing before he is allowed to permanently damage what belongs to every American.
Our public lands, those lands that every American citizen owns, are uniquely part of our national identity. Nowhere else in the world do the people have a birthright to such wealth regardless of their social status or their bank accounts. In Arizona, we are blessed with over 30 million acres of public lands that host an amazing diversity of habitats and wildlife. These lands provide a vast array of uses from timber harvest and cattle grazing to countless recreational activities such as camping, hiking, wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing. William Perry Pendley’s appointment as the ‘Acting’ Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) puts these lands and all they provide at direct risk.
Mr. Pendley, a self-labeled “Sagebrush Rebel,” has a long and hostile history of advocating for the sale and transfer of our federal lands, and his anti-public lands rhetoric is in direct opposition to the BLM’s mission of a balanced approach to land management. In his role as president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pendley repeatedly sued the agency and attacked it in public comments and books. Now, as the Acting Director of that same agency, he is in a position to damage and dismantle the agency from within.
Our public lands provide clean air and water, provide limitless recreational opportunities, support industries, and put food on our tables. These lands belong to all American citizens and deserve to be managed and protected for the American people, not sold off to, or stripped of their resources by, the highest bidders. William Perry Pendley does not share these values and is the wrong person to lead the BLM.
I urge you to reject Mr. Pendley’s appointment and call for a full Senate confirmation hearing.
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