July 2023 Advocacy Updates

Runners for Public Lands is committed to protecting the places we love and the people we love to run with. We are excited to share a little about our ongoing public lands education and advocacy work. We are currently engaging in various national level policy efforts that impact runners and race directors as they relate to the protection of public lands, equitable access to nature, and outdoor recreation policy in the US. See what we’ve been working on below!

Climate Change

Policy initiatives that address the climate crisis are important to runners because these efforts work to protect and improve our environment, maintain healthy public lands and keep us on the trails and urban running paths. RPL supports just, equitable, and sustainable government, corporate, and community action (such as mitigation and adaptation) to reduce excess greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere, and minimize climate-related human suffering and environmental degradation. RPL recently signed onto a comment letter providing input to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP)—a program that incentivizes compliance with the proposed and highly impactful EPA Methane Rule, which has the potential to greatly mitigate climate change. If implemented, these two efforts will directly contribute to reducing methane emissions by 87% by 2030 while protecting our landscapes and local communities. These initiatives will also prioritize resources that support low-income and disadvantaged communities and mitigate the health effects of air pollution from oil and gas operations in those areas. Follow the links to read more about the EPA Methane Rule and the MERP.

Equitable Access

Are you a Race Director that has an event requiring a special use permit on a US Forest Service lands? Did you know that the USFS has proposed a rule that will increase the costs of permits for small events like trail races and other types of recreation activities?

RPL is working with the Coalition for Outdoor Access and other nonprofits including the National Outdoor Leadership School, the American Mountain Guides Association and the Wilderness Society to seek clarification on how this proposal would impact trail races on USFS lands. We co-signed this letter requesting clarification from the USFS and expressing our concern that an increase in permit costs may result in higher registration fees and ultimately make trail races less accessible to more runners — especially those from disadvantaged communities.

For a full description of the USFS Cost Recovery Proposal and how it may impact trail running events, read this summary by Jason Keith, RPL Board of Director, Senior Policy Advisor to the Access Fund and the AMGA, and Managing Director of the nonprofit, Public Lands Solutions.

The public comment period for this proposed rule closed on June 20, but RPL will continue to work with our partners and the US Forest Service to ensure that any USFS cost recovery rule will not have negative implications for the running community.

Land Designations

On April 11, Tribal Leaders of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition proposed 1.1 million acres of land in proximity to Grand Canyon National Park be designated as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. This designation would permanently protect the lands from new uranium mining and other developments and protect important trails to our community including the Arizona Trail. Runners for Public Lands has expressed our support of this proposal by signing this Nonprofit Letter of Support.

As a runner, if you would also like to join us in support of this effort, please consider signing this letter of support from the running community.

All images provided by Austin Corbett, Events & Community Engagement at Kahtoola.