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Harnessing Tools for Change

How we can use The Climate Atlas to aid public land conservation

National Monuments, Wilderness Areas, and Scenic and Historic Trails are places protected against development. These critical designations support wildlife, biodiversity, clean air and water, and sustain our human and cultural connections to nature. But how do these designations happen?



Two key ingredients are needed: knowledge about the lands’ natural values and the passionate advocacy of the locals who live there. For the past 15 years, the Conservation Lands Foundation(Se abre en una ventana nueva) (CLF) has harnessed both ingredients to secure protections for some of America’s most vulnerable and valuable public lands, bringing them into a system called National Conservation Lands.

Only 13% of land is protected in the U.S. – Conservation Science Partners(Se abre en una ventana nueva)

These lands are managed by the largest public lands caretaker in America, the Bureau of Land Management, and represent our nation’s natural, cultural and outdoor heritage. Unlike other types of protected public lands, you can hike, hunt, fish, camp—and even bring your dog—on National Conservation Lands. And through community-based action, CLF’s Friends Grassroots Network(Se abre en una ventana nueva) is at the forefront of this movement, representing the diversity of our nation, supporting Indigenous perspectives and guiding conservation priorities for America’s public lands.  



Using The Climate Atlas to Increase Advocacy

Too often, important science and research are not translated into a format that is accessible or useful to everyday Americans who could otherwise have a greater impact. The Climate Atlas can hopefully bridge the gap. The goal was to create a tool that clearly demonstrates the climate and biodiversity values of America’s public lands in a way that everyone can understand.



Get Involved

The Climate Atlas will help advocates working on specific place-based campaigns. Several case studies(Se abre en una ventana nueva) walk through exactly how you too can use The Climate Atlas. Take the Caja del Rio(Se abre en una ventana nueva) area of New Mexico for example. The Climate Atlas shows that it contains wilderness quality areas, borders the Kewa Pueblo lands and ranks very high in ecological intactness, climate resilience and the overall composite model for climate and biodiversity. In fact, parts of Caja del Rio are among the top 20% of valuable, unprotected Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands in the lower 48 states. Snapshot of Climate Atlas showing a rough outline of the Caja del Rio area (dotted black), plus the layers “Unprotected BLM Lands” (beige) and “Unprotected USFS Lands” (green). The Caja del Rio area was outlined using the polygon tool at the lower right of the app. This unprotected land is currently under threat from a proposed highway which, if completed as planned, would have a permanent impact on the habitats and landscapes of Caja del Rio. Thankfully, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order in 2021 that aims to preserve almost a third of New Mexico’s public land by 2030(Se abre en una ventana nueva). There’s an opportunity for locals in this area to advocate for Caja del Rio’s protection under that executive order using information provided by The Climate Atlas to make their case and be heard. CLF encourages everyone who cares about the outdoors, recreation and conservation to check out abre en una ventana nueva). Play around with the tool and learn about the conservation potential in your region. You can also sign up on the home page to receive updates on The Climate Atlas and conservation campaigns around the west. If you, like many people in the U.S., are overwhelmed by the climate crisis and want to help but don’t know how, use The Climate Atlas(Se abre en una ventana nueva) to explore what public lands are best for mitigating climate change and protecting species and habitat. Then contact a local or regional conservation group in that area and support their efforts. The Conservation Lands Foundation team envisions a future where all vulnerable and valuable public lands are stewarded, protected and widely appreciated.