Our Public Lands
An Inclusive Vision for the Next 100 Years of Conservation and Stewardship in America
Over the past century, our national public lands – including places such as Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the White Mountain National Forest – have played an important role in protecting our clean air and water and natural and cultural heritage, and providing opportunities for recreation and respite.
Unfortunately, too many people do not yet enjoy these benefits of our national public lands. Instead, some people feel unwelcome in public lands; others do not find their own history and heritage reflected in the stories told, places protected or people working in the outdoors. This disconnect is becoming more apparent as the face of our country continues to change at a rapid pace. It is more urgent because we are at risk of losing to development, climate change and political pressures the historic, cultural, natural, spiritual, economic and recreational resources now provided by our national public lands.
The 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016 was an opportunity to kick off the next century of conservation and stewardship in America — one that protects our public land heritage for all to access and enjoy.
A more inclusive approach to our country’s public lands over the next 100 years must be driven by three guiding principles:
REFLECT THE FACES OF OUR COUNTRY: Our national public lands must reflect the demographic and ethnic diversity of our nation’s people among visitors, the agencies’ workforce and in the designation of new units. This will require a cultural shift within the agencies responsible for managing and overseeing these spaces and a commitment from people outside the agencies to join together to support this approach.
RESPECT FOR ALL CULTURES: Our public lands play a unique role in capturing the many different historical, cultural and spiritual stories that have shaped this country — celebrating acts of bravery and sacrifice, recognizing the unique contributions of all people, and providing opportunities for atonement and healing. We need to make sure that the full range of these stories are being told at existing and new park units and public lands. Protecting cultural and natural landscapes that tell America’s complex history will help us learn from our past, honor our ancestors and educate future generations.
RESPONSIBILITY TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE ALL PEOPLE: The future of our national public lands depends upon public support from all people. Moving forward, we must actively and authentically engage a diverse range of communities in new and meaningful ways to build support for our public lands and shape the direction of our future public lands and natural resources policies.
The Next 100 Coalition is coordinated by the Keystone Policy Center.
To learn more, read our vision document.