Act Now: Protect Clean Air in California's Climbing Areas

Climbers from around the world visit California’s national parks and wilderness areas to enjoy some of the world’s best climbing, from Yosemite to Joshua Tree. Clean air is a significant part of the climbing experience—we need it to breathe and to take in the beautiful scenery of the wild places we seek out.

Bouldering in Sequoia National Park, California. Ancestral land of Western Mono/Monache. © Damon Corso.

But over the decades, haze—from cars and trucks, oil and gas operations, and other industrial sources—has degraded visibility and harmed people’s health in national parks and local communities across the country. In fact, nearly 90% of national parks are plagued by haze pollution—visitors to California’s national parks miss out on an average of 90 miles of visibility in parks.

The Clean Air Act includes a time-tested, effective program designed to protect “Class 1” airsheds like parks and wilderness areas that provide outstanding recreational opportunities. This Regional Haze Rule has resulted in real, measurable, and noticeable improvements in visibility and air quality in national parks and in communities across the nation. The RHR requires all states, including California, to do their share by reducing pollution in their borders to help restore clean and clear skies at protected national parks and wilderness areas.

California recently released a draft proposal to update its plan and reduce pollution—as required by a provision of the Clean Air Act—that falls short of its obligation to improve air quality throughout the state. Take action now by visiting the National Park Conservation Association (NPCA) website and submitting a public comment by June 13!

Speak Up Now to Demand Clean Air for All

Air quality is a significant part of the climbing experience and climbers need clean air to breathe, but California's proposed pollution reduction plan falls short of guaranteeing future air quality. Take action now by visiting the NPCA website and submitting a public comment by June 13, 2022.

Despite great strides to date, California’s proposed regional haze plan fails to require adequate measures to reduce pollution and falls short on the state’s obligation to improve air quality for our parks and communities.

Poor air quality in our national parks also threatens our local economies. Our national parks provide nearly $42 billion in economic benefits and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. California’s recreation economy provides $92 billion dollars in consumer spending and provides 691,000 direct jobs. Without strong safeguards protecting the air we breathe, we can’t keep these places and local economies strong, let alone keep people healthy. Every visitor to a national park deserves to experience clean air and clear views.

The same sources of pollution causing haze in our national parks are also disproportionately affecting communities near those sources—communities that are often living below the poverty line, communities of color, or both. Alongside the NPCA, we’re calling on state agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for the benefits that controls on haze-causing pollutants have for disproportionately affected communities and ensure that those benefits are considered and prioritized in developing state or federal implementation plans.

As climbers and recreational users of National Parks we need to speak up! Some of California's most iconic climbing destinations, including Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Pinnacles and Sequoia & Kings Canyon, are part of the national park system. While most haze pollution does not originate in national parks, dirty air can travel hundreds of miles from its source, thereby affecting parks and nearby communities. Take action now to protect clean air for everyone—not just climbers—by visiting the NPCA website and submitting your public comment by June 13th!

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