Since the early 1990s, on the fourth Saturday in September, our nation has gathered to celebrate National Public Lands Day. Our public lands are the real gems of this country. When I think of public lands, I am always brought back to those famous words sung by Woody Guthrie, “This land is your land, this land is my land…This land was made for you and me.” Our public lands cover millions of acres and, like our diverse population, come in many shapes in sizes, from rocky vistas to winding rivers, to prairies, historic sites, seashores, and to sprawling forests.
Our public lands provide us with so many benefits: clean air and water, habitat for wildlife, reduced climate change impacts, and boundless recreational opportunities. Now more than ever, people are realizing how important access to nature is for our health and wellbeing. This year, many of us gained a new appreciation for public lands, as we spent months at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. No matter how you choose to celebrate National Public Lands Day, always remember to “Recreate Responsibly.”
Florida Conservation Voters advocates for conserved land, clean water, climate action, and protected democracy. Our love of the natural world is core to our advocacy work. And we know that voters care about conserving land and water.
We asked Digital Organizer Savana Roach how her love of public lands influences her election work:
Savana Roach: “Be a Conservation Voter!”
Working to conserve public lands is one of the many things that fuels my work at FCV. Protecting our public lands is one of the many reasons I vote, and it encourages my work at FCV to help more people get registered to vote and to get out to the polls. When we show up to the polls, we aren’t just showing up for ourselves. We’re showing up for those who can’t vote – this means voting not only for the disenfranchised but voting for the land!
My favorite public land is St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge. This huge multi-agency project features thousands of acres of protected wetlands, forests, and recreational areas. It is home to black bear, gopher tortoise, and resident and migratory birds. It was the first public land I visited in Florida after moving here in 2015, and over the years, I spent many beautiful mornings volunteering with their Monarch-Milkweed Initiative. I was so grateful to have access to the beautiful playground that is St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge – I always left in a great mood!
Saving the land of St. Marks NWF has been a decades-long process, driven by the will of voters and pro-environment leaders. Being a conservation voter means voting with land and water at top of mind. Conservation Voters know that to protect our water and make Florida more resilient to the impacts of climate change, we must strategically conserve Florida’s natural resources. Being a Conservation Voter means we advocate for green solutions and show up to vote for those who can’t.
The 2020 election is right around the corner; FCV is working tirelessly to support candidates that will show up for you and our environment. If you are looking for a way to get involved, I would love your help volunteering to get out the vote! For all your voting needs prior to the election, head over to https://flvoterinfo.org/ to learn more!
This election, public lands are on your ballot. Help us support pro-environment candidates and protect special places like St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.