As we move toward a new year I sit and ponder about the fate of the environment and our outdoor pursuits. More and more land, public land, is either disappearing or being closed off to us. Land that is ours, as American citizens, is being turned over to mining and oil drilling companies and privately owned cattle ranches, all at our expense. It is not to our benefit. You don’t see the price of beef dropping at your local grocery store do you? Heck it is just the opposite. What about our oil and timber being shipped overseas? Who benefits? Not us. Native people are being cut off from sacred lands which are like forbidding Christians from going to church. What will the new year bring? More importantly, what are we, as outdoorspeople, going to do about it?
It is time for all interested groups to join forces before it is too late. Groups like Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Boone and Crockett, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others need to join forces with The Audubon Society, The Sierra Club, The Appalachian Mountain Club, Native American groups and others to fight back. For too long the “outdoorspeople” and the “environmentalists” have locked horns. This is what the people looking to take it all away what us to do. It is an old tactic called “divide and conquer”. This tactic was used by the Europeans when dealing with the Native Americans; it was used by Nazi Germany and it is being used by the politicians in Washington, D.C. today. It has worked in the past and it still works now if we let it.
I am an outdoorsman. I hunt and fish in order to help feed my family, taking only what I need. I fly fish and use terminal tackle. I am a gun owner. I am also a person who enjoys just walking in the woods, camera in hand, watching wildlife. I feed the birds in the winter; tap maple trees in the spring; plant trees on Arbor Day and pick up the trash left by others. I enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing; whitewater rafting, canoeing and hiking. I honor the traditions and customs of my Native American ancestors and I am proud to say that I am part of the circle. These are things that both groups of people enjoy, so why can’t we work together to protect them?
Just by default I am an environmentalist. If you are an ethical hunter and angler, then so are you. Yet we, both outdoorspeople and environmental groups, like to concentrate on our few differences rather than on our many similarities. The powers who want to take all of this away from us; those who look no further than their own political gain and their wallets, love it. If we fight amongst ourselves then we can’t put up an organized front to stop them. It is time that we put aside our differences and work together to protect what truly makes America special.
I want my granddaughters to grow up appreciating everything I did. I don’t want them to ask me why I didn’t do anything to stop the deforestation, the polluted water and air and the destroyed farmland from oil leaks in the pipeline. I don’t want them to live in a time when the ducks stop flying in or the trout stop swimming. I don’t want the only elk they see is the stuffed one in a museum. We need to unite, pool our resources and fight the fight. As the saying goes, “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees”.