I’ll start by apologizing. I’m sorry. I prefer to keep this blog focused on fly fishing and fly tying, or some positive aspect dealing with the great outdoors. I have strong political beliefs, but I prefer to keep them to myself. I just can’t do that right now, though. I have to put my feelings and my beliefs out there. It’s too important not to.
This past week, my wife and I planned to take a road trip to our neighboring state of Missouri. We planned to visit some interesting cultural and historical sites, and of course, do some fishing. Unfortunately, Missouri was hit by some major flooding, closing many of the places we were heading to. (Climate change? That’s a whole other topic to deal with.) So instead we headed east into Wisconsin to visit a few places that we’ve driven past before, but never taken the time to stop and visit.
We stopped at the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and the adjoining DNR unit. We visited the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation near Baraboo. We finished at the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. The scenery, the birds and the wildflowers were all spectacular. As we spent time in the visitor centers and on the trails we experienced a lot and learned even more. But more importantly we reaffirmed in our hearts and minds our love for everything related to our great outdoors, and the importance of sharing and protecting it.
Unfortunately, though, in the past weeks and months we have become more and more aware of the many threats that are being made to our environment. Threats that could restrict the natural world that we all enjoy. Threats that could completely take some of it away from us. Threats that could harm, and yes, even destroy parts of it if we aren’t careful. These threats are not just coming from one level of government, but from all levels. And it’s not just the government that poses these threats. Business, industry and even individuals are a part of it as well, emboldened by the principles of those in office.
Budgets are being cut at all levels that make protection and maintenance of some areas almost impossible, and in some cases may even force closure of some areas. Some politicians propose opening areas of public lands to industries for the extraction of natural resources. Others want to do away with the agencies and the regulations that were put into place to protect these lands, along with the plants, wildlife and in some places the cultural significance of these lands. In some instances, industry and individuals want to claim these places for themselves, and take away our rights and ability to enjoy them.
This needs to be stopped. We can’t let it happen. National parks, national monuments, and public lands are ours. We are the nation, the public. We need to conserve, preserve and protect what is ours. We can no longer sit back and depend on someone else doing it for us. We need to get involved, as individuals and as members of groups that support our beliefs and our principles.
Find a group – or more than one – that is a good fit for you: the Sierra Club, National Resource Defense Council, World Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever. Support them and their causes. Make a contribution when you can.
Go to the town halls sponsored by or for your local political representatives. Make your voice heard. Write letters, send emails, make phone calls. Back the politicians that support your viewpoints, and thank them for their efforts. Be as big a pain in the ass as you need to be to get the others to listen and support your causes. And if they don’t, vote them out the next time they are on the ballot.
We are up against forces with lots of power and money, but we can’t let that stop us. Together we are The People. This is Our Land, and it’s up to us to do what’s right, and to make sure “those in power” do the right thing too. Stand together, stand strong, but please, STAND!