Wilderness Week 2015
Redrock activists braved the cold and snow of Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials on Capitol Hill. Copyright Dave Pacheco/SUWA.

At the beginning of each new Congress, SUWA co-hosts a Wilderness Week.  It is a crucial event for generating enthusiasm for Utah wilderness among our elected officials before introduction of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA).  And every Wilderness Week manages to be memorable in one way or another.

This year it was snow—lots and lots of snow.  Washington, D.C. does many things poorly—governance comes to mind—but does nothing so poorly as it manages snow.  The city will close on the rumor of snow.  Many of the 38 dedicated activists from all over the country who came to town in February to tell the redrock story had to brave snow to get here and to deal with it during their stay. Nevertheless, they thrived.

After a full day of training in which they got all the details on ARRWA and a few other current issues, they hit the Hill, meeting with members of Congress and their staff to tell the redrock story. Our teams were passionate and knowledgeable and bursting with energy.  In just two days they met with roughly 41 percent of the 535 congressional offices.

Many offices responded to our activists with interest and enthusiasm, finding their perspectives on the value of Utah wilderness compelling.  Volunteers reported that it was a valuable experience for them, too.  Several mentioned that their experience in D.C. had restored their faith in democracy and the power of their voices.  One activist had the opportunity to meet her longtime hero, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).  She also found some time to visit the pandas at the National Zoo—where she ran into a television news crew. She was interviewed and, like the pro she is, found a way to weave Utah wilderness into her comments.

Wilderness Week is also a reinvigorating event for SUWA staff.  Working with our activists always reminds us what a passionate, talented bunch you all are—and your support and dedication is a huge part of the progress we’ve made in protecting the redrock.  A big thank you to our Wilderness Week participants!

—Rachel Briggs

(From Redrock Wilderness newsletter, spring 2015 issue)