The majority of public lands in the United States are held in trust for the American people by the federal government and managed by several different agencies; Bureau of Land Management, US National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the Department of Interior.
Let me repeat that, they are held IN TRUST for the American people.
It's our land. All of ours.
I care about public lands, a lot. Those of you that follow me on social media know this. As much as I repost and share articles about the efforts to transfer or sell America's public lands, I've never shared why they are so important to me.
My parents moved to Arizona from New York in the late 70's. My dad did a small amount of hunting in NY, and the wide open spaces of the West appealed to his sense of adventure. He hit it hard in the 80's and by the time I was born, (85) our living room was filled with Couse Deer, Elk, and Caribou, (he did a couple of hunts in BC and Quebec).
Eventually, I started hunting with him. First going with him for dove and quail, learning how to shoot that old H&R 20 gauge, and eventually going with him on big game hunts. When I was ten he took the hunter's safety course with me and I finally got my hunting license. We hunted together every year since until I left for grad school. All on public land.
I cut my teeth out there, and not just with hunting and fishing, but in life. I learned the value of hard work and getting out what you put in. That upbringing shaped who I am today in the deepest sense. I can honestly say that public lands have had a profoundly positive impact on my life.
Further, without public lands, I'm not sure if I would have the same relationship with my dad as I do today. My dad is a stern and to the point kind of guy, but he was different when we were hunting. It was like the playing field was level, he let me explore and contribute ideas, even though he knew better. He allowed me to make mistakes and helped me dust myself off when I fell.
We talked, a lot; about everything. Out there we were more open with each other, he treated me like a man. That meant a lot to me as a young boy, a teenager, and a young adult. It means even more to me now, as a father myself.
I dream of taking my boy hunting and fishing in those same old spots that my dad took me, of giving him the opportunity to explore, and learn, and hopefully foster a bond as strong, if not stronger, than mine with my father.