One of the most effective ways we Americans have of influencing law-makers is a concise, well thought out personal letter. Members of Congress listen to their constituents and care about their opinions. You can become your own advocate with Congress in matters affecting where and how you pursue outdoor recreation. Just follow the guidelines below.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to view a sample letter.
Find addresses on our Congressional Contact Information page.
- HOW TO ADDRESS THE LETTER: Address is properly: “Hon . _____, House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515,” or
“Senator _____, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.”
- IDENTIFY THE BILL OR ISSUE: Identify the bill or issue. About 20,000 bills are introduced in each Congress; it’s important to be specific. Give the specific area that you are writing about and let them know exactly what you are referring to by stating either the bill name or specific area that you are referencing.
- MAKE SURE THAT THE LETTER IS TIMELY: Make sure that the legislation or issue that you are writing about has not been resolved.
- MAKE SURE THAT YOU WRITE YOUR OWN LEGISLATOR: It is not beneficial to write each and every legislator in the country. Make sure that you stick to the legislator in the area that is in question. Legislators in other areas may not be able to assist you unless it is a bill that is of a national scope.
- MAKE IT SHORT AND SWEET: Keep in mind that your legislator is dealing with many issues and the shorter the letter, the more likely it is going to be reviewed
- MAKE IT PERSONAL: Form Letters are often dismissed as “junk” because they assume that the person that is sending it simply hit a button and forwarded it on. Most of the legislators are aware that of the national lobby groups opinions on the matter at hand and they want to hear from their constituents, which is you.
- GIVE SPECIFICS: Let them know exactly why you are opposed. Include economic impact on the area as often as possible. For assistance with that, check with your local Chamber of Commerce.
- DO NOT MAKE THREATS: Make sure you keep the letter civil and do not resort to making threats.
- DO NOT SEND A LETTER A WEEK: Do not overwhelm your legislator with letters, it irritates them more than it helps keep it fresh in their mind.
- DO NOT OVERSTATE YOUR POLITICAL POWER: Make sure that you do not say statements like “We represent thousand of your constituents or we can do something to make sure that you are not re-elected. Keep it honest, simple, short and sweet.
Your City, State, Zip Code
Senator (name of Congressman)
Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Senator (Name of Congressman),
Insert the bill or closure issue that you are addressing here. Make sure that it is no longer than a few sentences.
Insert a personal story about your experience with the land in question here. For example, a story about your experience on that particular trail or tract of land, a heartfelt story regarding your experience and if you have participated in any trail clean ups at that particular tract.
Insert closing statement here.