Want to ensure the future of public lands? Take the kids…

Blake, 7, makes a clean cast.  Hunter, 4, gets some help from Dad with his red fishin’ pole.  Deegan, 4, a family friend, alternately watches and pokes around among the rocks.  Clint, the dad, becomes animated when I mention that I’m writing stories about protecting public lands; he has stories of his own to share.  He lives nearby and takes regular opportunities to hunt and fish on Colorado’s public lands, both federal and state-owned; he’s a fierce proponent of public access.  We became so engaged in our like-minded dialogue, we didn’t notice right away that Deegan–the little guy without a fishing rod — had wandered off.  A quick end to the conversation while Clint went in search of the youngster, but not before agreeing with my sentiment that one important way to ensure the future of public lands is to introduce our kids to the magic of water, forest, hiking trails, and in this case, fishin’.

In this campground on this weekend, there was a plethora of kids enjoying themselves. Bikes, skateboards, walks along the shore during the daylight hours and campfires and s’mores at dark.  Kids having fun while memories sink into their subconscious, to resurrect during gloomy days and sad moments.  Their parents may never talk with them about the value of this land and these opportunities.  But it’s not necessary.  Memories will be enough, reawakened at some point in the future when it’s important to remember and speak out.

Big kids enjoy a weekend on the water too.  I wonder what they would say if I posed the same question to each that I posed to Clint.  I can only hope that they would feel as strongly that this state park and the nearby National Forest deserve their voice.

About the Author

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I grew up and lived in the DC Metro area for most of my life. For the last 20-some years of my career, I worked for the Federal Government. Much of that time, I worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service. Visiting refuges and National Forests around the country, working with the folks whose jobs were to protect, restore, and manage the wild lands, forests and creatures that depend on them is where my heart resonated. I didn't know it then, but that's where my public lands advocacy must have been born. I moved from DC to southwestern NM in 2008. I continued to work until 2013, when I left the government in December. Now I spend my time volunteering for various conservation non-profits. And traveling through the west to National Parks, Refuges, National Forests and BLM lands in our little motor home. And advocating for the protection of these lands that belong to all of us. I enjoy writing, photography, reading, birding, and driving bad roads in my big-girl 2001 F150 4x4.

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