On the chilly morning of February 15th, 27 land trust leaders traveled to Olympia for WALT’s second annual Land Trust Lobby Day.
Land trust staff, board members, county commissioners and community members from across Washington came together to advocate for WALT’s legislative priorities and update their legislators on their land trust’s work.
Out Association started holding a WALT Lobby Day to make it easy for land trusts and their supporters to connect with their legislators about the conservation issues they care about. Our state elected officials are key partners in accomplishing critical conservation work, both through funding and policy.
Lobby day participantes met with a total of 56 legislators throughout the day from over 20 districts. The meetings were incredibly positive on the whole. Elspeth Kim with the Center for Natural Lands Management said that many of her conversations centered around the fact that “land trusts are here to be a partner.” “I had a super productive day,” said Cherie Kearney of Columbia Land Trust.
During lunch, participants heard remarks from Senator Judy Warnick (R, Moses Lake) and Representatives J.T. Wilcox (R, Yelm) and Steve Tharinger (D, Sequim).
Representative Wilcox recounted the story of his own family’s farm in the Nisqually watershed, and how conservation and rural economic development can go hand-in-hand. As a former Nisqually Land Trust board member, Representative Wilcox was proud to share that his daughter is now a member — making them the first multi-generation family on the land trust’s board!
Rep. Wilcox reflected that land trusts are the “most functional, yet least visible” actors in the conservation scene. This observation reinforces why it is so important for land trusts to continue to strengthen relationships with their legislators.
After a whirlwind of meetings, speakers, and networking, land trust leaders left Olympia confident that their legislators were hearing the voice of the land trust community.
In the face of climate change, population growth, and increasing demand on our shared natural resources, Washington must step up to protect our lands and waters. The Washington Association of Land Trusts is dedicated to working with our legislature to make sure that conservation is a continued priority in Olympia.
Your support helps elevate the land trust voice in Olympia. Please join us today!