By Scott Steen
On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States after one of the most divisive campaign seasons in American history. America remains deeply divided about the new administration and many in the conservation and environmental communities are deeply concerned — or downright fearful — about what this election will mean for our efforts to care for our land and the health of the planet.
There is certainly reason for concern. The new president’s public statements on climate change, fossil fuels, the Environmental Protection Agency and public land use, combined with his first round of cabinet and senior staff picks, signal a clear change in direction in environmental policy and practice. How and whether the new administration follows through on these signals remains to be seen.
Regardless of the administration’s actions, American Forests’ mission and core activities will remain the same. We will continue to inspire and advance the conservation of forests. We will continue to protect and restore threatened forest ecosystems, promote and expand urban forests and increase understanding of the importance forests. And, we will continue to work with anyone — the new administration, federal agencies and state, local and community partners — who can help us advance these goals.
American Forests has remained nonpartisan since our inception, and as a 501(c)3 charity, we do not engage in political activity. However, throughout our 140-plus years, we have strongly advocated for policies that keep our forests healthy and thriving, our urban forests and greenspaces increasing, wildlife habitat safe and expanding and for all the benefits our forests provide us. Since Ulysses S. Grant, and the 26 presidents that have followed, we have worked together with both Republican and Democratic administrations whenever possible and stood up and fought when our forests were at stake. We will continue to do this work and remain vigilant in our efforts to protect and restore our forests.
Specifically, we will continue to fight:
- to keep forests as forests — protecting them from overdevelopment and fragmentation
- against opening our forests to more drilling for oil and natural gas
- to keep our public lands public — not sold off to private interests
- to ensure green infrastructure is a key part of overall infrastructure spending
- to ensure forests remain part of a climate change solution and protected from the threats exacerbated by climate change
Much of our policy and advocacy efforts take place through our leadership in coalitions that include many of the other national conservation and environmental groups. These groups share many of our interests and will be a key part of our strategy over the next four years.
We will also continue to mobilize our Forest Advocates to voice opinions about proposed legislation and work with our champions in Congress to provide practical solutions and act against damaging legislation. We will work with those champions to be diligent about presidential appointments to ensure appointees are as well-vetted and professionally prepared for these roles as possible and work to block appointees that are counter to the missions of the land management and environmental agencies and the health of our forests.
We need you, now more than ever, to help us ensure that the investments that we have all made in protecting and restoring our forests, rebuilding wildlife habitat, expanding urban forests and safeguarding our watersheds and rivers are not dismantled. Please support American Forests now. Together, we have the power to protect and restore our forests now and for generations to come.