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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site—which The Trust for Public Land helped establish back in the 1970s.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Lobbyists get a bad rap, but at its heart, lobbying just means making an argu- ment to the government—so, I’m a lobbyist for parks and public land. Some days I meet with Congressional staffers to advise them on legislation. Other times I act as a bridge between local conservation activists from around the country and their representatives in D.C. These folks might not know the ins and outs of Congress, so I try to take that part off of their plate so they can focus on telling their story.

Tell us about the most important thing you’re working on. Definitely the permanent reauthoriza- tion and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is currently set to expire in 2018. There’s a bill to reauthorize it in the House

right now, so we’re out in the field and on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of that bill. We want lawmakers to know that their constituents, no matter their political affiliation, value the parks and open space that LWCF makes possible— and that if the program is cut, their constituents will remember that come the next election.

What’s one strategy you’ve used to get representatives to take note of LWCF? Well, take my former boss, Congress- man Lewis. He’s an icon of the civil rights movement, and environmental issues weren’t always a top priority for his constituency. But the work that The Trust for Public Land is doing to put a park within a 10-minute walk of every- one in America’s cities really resonates with him. So I try to communicate that LWCF doesn’t just protect wild or undeveloped land—it’s a crucial part of our work to build parks in cities across the country.

How can everyday people become advocates for parks and conservation? There are as many ways to make a dif- ference as there are places that need your help. No matter where you live, there is a park nearby that could use you as a volunteer—and local organiza- tions that can help you get started. We also need people to pick up the phone and call their representatives. You might feel like you’re just a drop in the bucket, but having worked on all sides of the process I can promise that your calls are counted. Even if your represen- tative has a great record on public lands, call them and let them know you like what they’re doing! It makes their back- bones a little stronger when they’ve got to stand up for these places.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

I’ve had the chance in the past year to travel to many of the sites The Trust for Public Land is working to protect—like Ackerson Meadow, a 400-acre addition to Yosemite National Park, and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail in Hawaii. It’s exciting to visit places I never experienced growing up in Los Angeles, and to meet community mem- bers there who are working so hard to preserve their cultural connections to the land. It means so much to hear from people about the impact that our work has on their lives.

Though it’s better known for supporting national parks and forests, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is also key to urban parks and greenways — like this one in Cleveland, Ohio.


kyle lanzer

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