Like many Mainers, getting outside during the pandemic has been invaluable to my health. But to continue to enjoy the outdoors and all that nature provides, we need forward-thinking natural resource policy and management decision makers.

That’s why the Natural Resources Council of Maine supports the nomination of Congresswoman Deb Haaland for U.S. Interior Secretary. Rep. Haaland will ensure that our public lands and waterways are stewarded properly with an eye toward equity and inclusion.

All Americans deserve to enjoy the outdoors. In fact, the nation is better served when everyone has the means to thrive, including having access to nature and the benefits that come along with it.

Rep. Haaland has worked to expand outdoor access for indigenous communities and communities of color that have historically been made to feel unwelcome or lacked access to public lands. She has also demonstrated that the climate crisis and natural resources conservation should be top priorities that, in effect, support individuals, communities, and the economy.

It’s therefore unsurprising that Rep. Haaland championed the Great American Outdoors Act, which passed with overwhelming support from both parties last year and will greatly enhance public lands in every state.

Despite their importance, public lands and waters are in danger from climate change, invasive species, and pests, among other things. I urge Sens. Collins and King and their colleagues to swiftly confirm Rep. Haaland’s nomination so she can continue defending public lands and access to them for the betterment of current and future generations.

Melanie Sturm, forests and wildlife director

Natural Resources Council of Maine

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