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I am a privileged, white woman. I take for granted the safety and access to our public lands and waters. I go to these places daily for mental and physical health. I never worry about being chased on my daily run and shot. I never worry about having the police called on me for watching birds in my local park. I never fear for the safety of my kids as they bike down the urban trails in our neighborhood.

I am a privileged, white woman – and I want to listen, learn, and make change so that these outdoor spaces we all love, we all visit daily, we all prioritize – are safe spaces for all.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and now during these needed and passionate protests against police brutality and racism, our public lands are places where we can come together. When we were quarantined in our homes, the local trails, parks, and ball fields were and are places my family escapes to for our physical and mental wellbeing. Now these same parks and public spaces are opportunities to gather as one, united nation to stand up for each other.

Our nation needs to heal. We must come together and find commonality and compassion for each other. Our public lands should provide an equitable landscape for shared experience and community, and it’s up to all of us – regardless of our skin color – to ensure they are. There is hope in the images of police and protesters holding hands in those public spaces. There is hope in neighbors gathering to walk with a black community member because he felt scared to walk along during this time. There is hope in the faces of children of all races, donning masks to protect from coronavirus, holding signs of unity on their parent’s shoulders at local parks.

We need public lands more than we ever have in the history of our nation.

This week the Senate will vote on the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which includes full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Most of these public spaces where we come together are there because of LWCF funding. We need to create more opportunities for all Americans to connect and feel safe, and passage of the GAOA will ensure that there is funding to do just that.

Montanans are looking to our entire delegation to ensure GAOA swiftly passes the Senate and House, and makes it to the president’s desk for signature into law. We need more opportunities to come together – to look after each other – and to heal the rifts that divide us.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve felt an overwhelming need to protect my babies, and my neighbor’s babies. I spied a protest sign this week that read, “When George Floyd called for his mama, he summoned ALL the mamas!” I am a privileged, white woman, and I don’t know what it is like. I will never know what it is like to be scared every time I leave my home because of the color of my skin.

But this mama isn’t turning away from something that feels uncomfortable or insurmountable. If you are scared to walk in our largely white community, email me and I will walk with you ( I will vote in each and every election. I will listen, and learn and organize mama’s voices for George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the millions of other mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, cousins, friends and neighbors.

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Becky Edwards is the executive director of the Mountain Mamas and lives in Bozeman with her husband and three daughters.