Thursday, October 2, 2008

Seeing Clearly in an Election Year

Time spent in the wilderness has a way of making things a little clearer. Becky and I just returned from 37 days on the trail, hiking from Denver to Durango on the Colorado trail. Clear running streams, muscular peaks, Elk bugling through the night, Aspen trees slowly moving from green to gold to red.
While on the trail, I thought about how lucky we are that we live in a country that has a legacy of preserving places like these - not just for Becky and I, but for our son, Matt - and his future children and grandchildren. We as citizens of this great land can access and experience the wonders of these public areas. Lands available from right here in Louisiana all the way to the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
As we hiked the Colorado Trail, we walked through areas in which thousands of cattle were being grazed within the national forest. Miles of trail were torn up by hooves (as well as thousands of 'gifts' being left for us on the trail by this livestock). While I still felt lucky to be hiking these areas, I was disappointed that the government was renting my public land to ranchers raising cattle. Land use issues like grazing, logging and drilling directly affect the quality of these lands now and on into the future.
I, like many of you am inundated daily with the upcoming election. Iraq, the bailout of our economy, education, health care and many other issues dominate the headlines. We all live in a malestrom of billboards, 30 second commercials, biased radio and TV personalities spewing their opinions as facts and media soundbites.
I would not pretend to be qualified to tell anyone how to vote. As a person who treasures the outdoors, I would like however, to bring forward a thought. As people who value the outdoors and the environment, we should put into consideration which candidate we feel would uphold the integrity of our public lands and will govern best for the environment. Factor this in along with the other concerns you have for the new leadership of our country. Then on November 4th, get out and vote!
Native Americans had a concept known as "seventh generation". The Seventh Generation accoring to WikiPedia is an ecological concept that admonishes the current generation of humans to be working for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future. After living in the (nearly) pristine wilderness of Colorado for the last 5 weeks, I feel that I have some clarity that our environment and the use of our public lands should be an election day issue - not just for
me, but for seven generations down the line.

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