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A Legacy we cannot Lose

Little Lost Creek Conservation Area

It is a fairly safe assumption that if you are reading this post, you are someone who values the outdoors. Given that common ground, let's also agree that each one of our reasons for valuing the outdoors is slightly different.

What is certainly true, is that the concept of Public Land is under assault, perhaps to an extent unknown since Teddy Roosevelt started the movement to set aside land for the enjoyment of future generations. Let's start by remembering what motivated these actions by TR.

TR grew up a wealthy and unhealthy kid from "Back East." He essentially identified in himself the need to get outdoors and improve his health and stamina. To make a long story short, he spent vast amounts of time in the outdoors and did improve himself physically. But perhaps more importantly, the outdoors was where he retreated when he needed emotional respite. When his wife died, he went West and his tonic was the outdoors.

TR could afford to buy the land on which he could do these things - in fact he did buy a huge

Teddy Roosevelt on a hunting trip

ranch in North Dakota. But he recognized that for many reasons, land needed to be set aside so that common man could do the same. When he became President, he did just that and in so doing, started a movement that future Presidents have memorialized by making similar additions to the reservoir of public lands.

TR's moves to set aside vast tracts of public land were not without controversy. They were also not permanent. Throughout history since TR, there have been constant threats to the lands he and future Presidents and other public entities have set aside. As political climates have blown back and forth, public land policies have changed.

It is fairly evident that the there is a pretty strong headwind right now endangering public lands. In fact, that wind is on the verge of being a hurricane. The Trump administration, as well as a vast majority of conservative state legislatures have been swayed by the interests of industry to either privatize public land, or to open it to mining, gas and oil exploration, and other commercial interests.

But this is not a political post really...or at least not a targeted attack on Trump or the conservative movement. But, many of us as sportsmen and women are conservative yet oppose the selling off of public lands or opening it to coal and oil interests. I do not mean public land can NEVER be logged, or mined, or drilled, etc.

But I do see that there is a real concern that this cast of characters has never been on a hunting trip in the Bighorn Mountains, been on a backcountry backpacking trip, or fly fished for smallmouth on a quiet Ozark Mountain stream in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. These lands are vital, at least in the mind of this author, to the well being of individuals and of families.

Therefore, given the political realities that exist, I implore sportsmen and women to engage and get involved. Some of the proposed actions by the Trump Administration and states, are irreversible. A strip mine once dug creates an environment that will never be the same. Make your voice heard.

What can you do?

1. Join an organization that supports your interests. One example is Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. There is strength in numbers.

2. Get involved in a specific public land. For example, the image below shows options in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

NPS Get Involved

3. Let your state and federal legislators know how you feel. Call or email them and tell them you care about public lands and want them preserved and that access be maintained for the activities you enjoy. Find their Facebook page and post your thoughts. Be prepared for blowback as is common on social media platforms. To find your US Rep or Senator, use this TOOL.

Let us know your thoughts and any actions you found to be helpful in these efforts.

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