A Chorus of Voices for Nature in Washington, D.C.

By Kate Janeway, incoming Board of Trustees chair

Last month, I flew east with four other trustees from The Nature Conservancy in Washington to join more than 150 fellow volunteer Nature Conservancy board members from around the country and the world. We converged on Washington, D.C., for the Conservancy's annual Volunteer Leadership Summit held June 20 through June 22. An inspiring highlight of this event was Advocacy Day: our chance to use our voices for nature on Capitol Hill.

Our meetings were held on either side of the Capitol building, meaning we did a lot of walking back and forth! © TNC

Fellow Washington Trustees Byron Bishop, Greg Moga, Bruce Nelson and Martinique Grigg and Washington state Director Mike Stevens, Federal Legislative Director Cathy Baker, Director of Marketing Carrie Krueger and External Affairs Manager Brittany Gallagher rounded out our team for an action-packed series of meetings with six Washington state members of Congress: Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and Reps. Dan Newhouse, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Derek Kilmer and Pramila Jayapal. Our meetings were among the more than 250 held with Conservancy trustees and members of Congress from all over the country for this year’s Advocacy Day.

We can almost see the new TNC office in Seattle in a photo in Senator Patty Murray's sunny conference room. © TNC

In addition to meeting with half of our state’s congressional delegation, our group sat in on a hearing by an Appropriations Subcommittee about the Department of the Interior’s budget priorities, and we attended a briefing session about a bill being prepared in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The energy bill (S. 1460) was officially introduced just one week later by Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska) and our own Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

It was great to have this opportunity to thank our members of Congress for some of the wonderful work they are doing for nature and people. The energy bill Cantwell introduced with Murkowski would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), among other good provisions. Cantwell and Murray are great champions for the LWCF, which is extremely important to Washington state’s beautiful forests and thriving recreation economy. 

We had a great meeting with Senator Cantwell and thanked her for her tireless work for permanent reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund. © TNC

Our forests would also benefit from the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (H.R. 2862), which was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of Washington’s members of the U.S. House, including Reps. Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers and Kilmer. The bill is working its way through the House and addresses much-needed funding for fighting wildfires.

Though our day was already packed, we found time to update friends back at home and around the world using social media. We tweeted up a storm about our Advocacy Day meetings and our group did a Facebook Live wrap-up discussion on Wednesday afternoon under the trees at the foot of the Capitol building.

State Director Mike Stevens talks to the group as we prepare to record our Facebook Live debrief.

As the incoming chair of our board and a longtime supporter of the Conservancy, I am proud of our organization’s history of bipartisanship and pragmatism. Our group’s meetings were positive and productive, and I left D.C. feeling hopeful about the future for conservation progress in Congress.