Climate Impacts All Hikers
Access to the places we love to hike, both close to home and farther away, are impacted by climate change with wildfires, drought, increased temperatures, and other factors limiting the hiking experience and the stewardship of trails. World renowned trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, have been forced to close sections due to fires, drought conditions leave hikers without water sources, and views are obstructed and health impacted by smoke. Impacts like extreme heat, flooding, and other exacerbated weather events are being felt around the world.
Climate and Public Lands
Energy extraction on our public lands is putting them in double jeopardy: by directly endangering fragile ecosystems, indigenous communities, cultural heritage, and recreational access and by producing a full 1/4 of all US carbon emissions, directly contributing to climate change that is in turn threatening our public lands in those very same ways. Wildfires, flooding, drought, and fossil-fuel-driven energy extraction are impacting access to and use of public lands for recreation and other enjoyment. Additionally, climate change places at risk the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy that makes up 2.2 percent of GDP and creates 7.6 million jobs. Notably, the outdoor recreation economy is larger than the mining and drilling economies according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
What Can the Hiking Community Do?
Support Public Land and Conservation Solutions. Programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund protect open spaces across the country, reduce the overall magnitude of climate change, and safeguard ecosystems as they adapt to the changing climate. Parks, trails, and other green spaces in our communities are also essential in addressing climate locally. Programs like the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program work to expand outdoor access for all in urban areas that lack access. Not only do these areas reduce pollution, protect from severe storms, heatwaves, and droughts, but they improve public health issues impacted by climate change and create more equitable access to the outdoors.