I am fortunate to have experienced the wide open spaces and wildlife of the American West as a kid. I am doubly fortunate that I am able to raise my own children in that same setting. We live in Bozeman, Montana so that we can hike, climb, fish, raft, camp, hunt, downhill and cross-country ski just minutes from our downtown home. Rare is the weekend that we don’t find ourselves on public land enjoying one or more of these activities. Without that access, without the ability to spend time together as a family in beautiful Southwest Montana, we would probably move.
Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, George Grinnell, John Muir and others were far-sighted enough to create the system of public lands that we enjoy. These public lands are unlike anything anywhere else in the world. We truly are blessed to be alive today to enjoy them. But, I fear that we are taking these lands for granted. They need financial support for on-going maintenance and for expansion. Without support, they will crumble.
I would like to see us invest more in the upkeep of our current county, state and federal parks. I would like to see us invest in the acquisition of more land for public access. Without this, we are simply putting more and more people on landscapes that we are spending less and less on. We know how that will end and it is not well for our kids, nor is it respectful of the Americans that established the network of public lands that we enjoy. It’s time to celebrate our public lands, not bicker over them.