Public Lands

Photo by Brigitte Lecroix

Photo by Brigitte Lecroix

From towering mountains to stark deserts, from glorious forests to wide open fields, God’s lands are an integral part of creation. Just as it was for the ancient Israelites, land is more than real estate or mere dirt under our feet. While land includes the gifts of soil, air, and water for material sustenance, it is also the foundation of human community — where we live, work, play, and find spiritual renewal. Public lands are the areas we already know and love: state and national parks, wilderness areas, national forests, scenic trails, national monuments, wildlife refuges, national recreation areas, and more.

landsmountainPeople of faith have a moral obligation to protect public lands so that all God’s children – both human and non-human – can share in the bounty that flows from them. We are called to speak out for justice while caring for the common good.

Along with our friends at Washington Wild and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, Earth Ministry/WIAPL is working with our local US senators and representatives to protect our wilderness nationally. We encourage legislators to support the Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Support the Antiquities Act of 1906 

The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the President to designate federal lands which contain objects of historic, scientific, or scenic significance as a national monument in order to prevent damage from commercial and other development. As people of faith, we must speak up to preserve current and future Presidents’ ability to protect our precious lands for future generations.

Protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund

sanjuanIn 1964, Congress made a commitment to the American public that a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling would go to outdoor recreation and conservation across the nation, as an offset for the depletion of resources that belong to us all. Yet, year after year, Congress diverts most of these funds for purposes unrelated to conservation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is essential for our quality of life. The fund has invested approximately $530 million in Washington over the last 40 years to expand public access to lakes and streams; build sports fields, trails, and local parks; conserve working forests; and protect state icons like Mount Rainier, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and the Yakima River watershed. Our faith calls us to ensure that Congress includes full funding of $900 million for this important program in the 2015 federal budget, and that the funds are used for conservation projects.

News and Events


Salmon ground is holy ground

Lutheran Bishop Martin Wells’ OpEd regarding the Columbia River Treaty, which outlines the moral and ethical issues at stake in modernizing the Treaty, as well as key principles that must be addressed in its renegotiation.  Rev. Martin Wells High Country News December 30, 2014  As bishop of…
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Op Ed: Monuments nurture our inner well-being

Rev. W. Thomas Soeldner The Spokesman Review July 5, 2014 As a hiker, outdoorsman and retired pastor, I am committed to protecting the wild and scenic places in the natural world found in our national monuments.
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‘Roll on, Columbia,’ but with some amendments

John Rosenberg The Olympian June 2, 2014  For many years, my brother Jim handled media relations for a large investor-owned utility (what I like to call an IOU) in the Midwest. Whenever we get together, he still reminds me about Washington state’s low energy prices thanks in…
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Op Ed: Fund the great outdoors

Rev. John LaMunyon Sammamish Review December 18, 2013 For many of us, these winter months mark a season of gratitude for the gifts and blessings of life. One gift that seems to slip beneath our radar time and again is the gift of creation. Washington is well known for aerospace, e-commerce, and tech development, but our true wealth is in our wilderness areas. We must ensure this gift will be preserved for our children and our children’s children.
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Information on Our Public Lands Campaign

This Land is Our Land: Faithful Stewardship of Public Lands

This Land is Our Land PowerPoint Earth Ministry's PowerPoint on public lands

Op Ed: Fund the great outdoors, by Rev. John LaMunyon

Further Resources

Ken Burns’ National Parks Religious Study Guides and “Clips” DVDs

Rooted in God's Word and Land and Out of the Wilderness publications by the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program with reflections, prayers, sermon starters, worship ideas, and activities for Christian communities around public lands

West is Best: How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage and West Is Best Infographic, a report by Headwaters Economic