Dear Friend of the National Parks,

As spring blooms in the Southwest, we are feeling optimistic about the arrival of cactus flowers, longer days and COVID-19 vaccines. With this field report we are happy to embrace these and other welcome changes, share developments in long-standing battles and invite you to learn an American story of resilience and inspiration from the Asian American community.

New Interior Secretary Named
In March, Deb Haaland became the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Secretary Haaland is a 35th generation New Mexican and a member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She brings her invaluable lived experience to the position as well as her background in Congress and reputation as a strong and capable person. We look forward to working with Secretary Haaland to create a more equitable future and lasting legacy for our parks and public lands.

Large Public Lands Bill Passed
The Preserving America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act, an ambitious public lands package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in February, includes long-standing efforts for NPCA's Southwest region. The Grand Canyon Protection Act aims to permanently protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining and the Havasupai Tribe's water supply from related pollution. The Colorado Wilderness Act proposes to designate over 600,000 acres of public land in Colorado as wilderness, and the Colorado Recreation and Economy Act includes an overdue boundary adjustment at Curecanti National Recreation Area and a new National Historic Landscape at Camp Hale. We will advocate for these bills until they are signed by President Biden!

Lawsuits to Help Protect our Parks
Early this year NPCA filed a lawsuit against the Park Service for its plans to authorize off-road vehicle (ORV) use throughout Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. NPCA challenged the Park Service's decision because it is inconsistent with park values and ignores the potential damage ORV use can inflict on the park’s plants, wildlife and backcountry solitude. This spring we received good news about another Utah lawsuit, our years-long challenge to the expansion of Alton Coal Mine near Bryce Canyon National Park. The court found the Bureau of Land Management’s environmental analysis of greenhouse gas effects was inadequate in its approval of the project. As these cases show, we are committed to defending park values, connected landscapes and climate no matter what — or how long — it takes.

The Story of Amache
NPCA recently hosted a panel on the stories of Amache, a former WWII Japanese American incarceration site. View the recording and visit our resource page for reading material and ways to support our partners in the campaign. To join NPCA in supporting a new national park to honor and preserve Amache for future generations, take action and send a comment to the Park Service or email [email protected].

For more Southwest regional updates, check out the winter 2021 edition of the Southwest Field Report.

Wishing you all the best for a happy, hopeful spring.





Ernie Atencio 
Regional Director, Southwest 

Photos, from top: Deb Haaland, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons, Grand Canyon © Tandem Vault, ORV © Marek Uliasz|Dreamstime, Amache guard tower © Tracy Coppola|NPCA

P.S. Considering visiting parks this spring and summer? Check out this blog post for things to consider and prepare for