As American citizens, we have a unique and wonderful right, the right to enjoy beautiful public lands that are set aside for all of us. It’s a right rooted in the democratic idea that the country is for the people. This notion that land should be made available to every citizen, not just the wealthiest and most privileged among us, has long been a cherished part of our American fabric.
On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act into law, giving birth to the world’s first national park in a little known place at the northwestern corner of Wyoming. Thirty-one years later, in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt commemorated a new arch at the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. The aptly named Roosevelt Arch was inscribed with a quote from the 1872 Act: For the benefit and enjoyment of the people. Roosevelt went on to help establish 5 National Parks and name 18 National Monuments (5 of which also later became National Parks).
Since Teddy Roosevelt, 15 of 19 presidents have designated national public lands. And today, the American people now own over 400 units of public lands – National Parks, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Trails, and much more – primarily managed by the National Park Service.
Americans also lay claim to other public lands by virtue of the states, counties, and cities they reside in. In addition to National Parks, we have ownership in and access to state parks, state forests, state trails, county parks, county forests, city parks, city trails, and the list goes on. Each of us collectively owns public lands, from our majestic national parks to our familiar city parks.
Land. Beautiful, breathtaking, awe-inspiring land. Land for wild animals to roam freely. Land for humans to roam freely too. Land owned by every single American, regardless of social class. Public land. Land for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.
We at Gitchi think that land for all people – public land – is a beautiful and important thing. To us, it is the truest sense of patriotism. The open space of democracy, the vast school rooms of Americanism, the notion that just by being American, we all share in the ownership of some of the most beautiful places this country has to offer. These public lands belong to us. To all of us. We are a nation of native people and we are a nation of immigrants. And it is the land that unifies us. It’s what makes these United States a home to all of us. Despite our diverse backstories, it is what we all have in common.
We’re launching our Public Lands Pledge because we care about protecting, maintaining, and growing our public lands. We want to help ensure that we all have the opportunity to experience America’s wild places. And we recognize that we now live in a time when the political tides have shifted. While Teddy Roosevelt was known as our “Conservation President,” today’s political leaders are less interested in setting aside and maintaining land for all people.
Our Public Lands Pledge is simple. Every time you buy from us, we donate a portion of each and every purchase to support our national parks, state parks, and other beautiful spaces in nature for all to enjoy. And because we like transparency, we tell you exactly what percentage of each purchase will be donated and which public lands initiative will receive the donation. All of this information is available under our product listings (in our online store) and on our packaging (in our retail locations).
Thank you for helping us invest in our public lands and helping all people to benefit from and enjoy our nation’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.