Monday, February 6, 2012

Purpose of Land

"There is not in all America a more dangerous trait than the deification of mere smartness unaccompanied by any sense of moral responsibility." -Teddy Roosevelt
The roosters flushed fifty yards ahead of the Honda as I tore through the vast North Dakota countryside on my way back to Colorado.  The early morning sun rose in my rearview mirror, as I watched the birds scatter when they hit the ground. Leaving their grit in fear, they now ran for the protection of a shelter belt that seemed ill equipped to protect an aging farmhouse from another honest North Dakota winter. But what do I know? I had just finished a cup of Starbuck’s coffee and a couple of doughnuts. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that I have been removed from this place for too long to have the first clue of what it takes to survive on the prairie. I have lost that privilege, and time has left me acutely aware of that fact. Maybe that’s why I choose to appreciate this landscape now. Or even more to the point, the landscape in which direction the Honda was running frantically back to.  

The “American West” wears many different hats. To some, the west is an iconic landscape that defines the American spirit, to others it is home, while some rely on the land as a simple way to earn a living. The west is gracious in its generosity, offering life through its toughness to those willing enough to appreciate its gift. And selfishly, the west offers something I couldn’t find or wasn’t looking for back home, opportunity.

As a fly fisherman who relies on public land to fuel his passion, the west feels too big to comprehend, maybe even too big to fully appreciate. But that doesn’t mean the trout that call these blue lines home aren’t appreciated. And as maps have been drawn to show such lines, a fisherman has surely strung up a rod to prove himself right.  And who can ignore the fact that most of the wild fish we catch from the west reproduce in public water, we own that responsibility. That’s a humbling thought for those willing to care enough to make sure the next generation has the same amount of, or more opportunities than the one’s passing through before them.  Needless to say I care about these fish, and I care about our land. After all, I have shared ownership. 


Political winds blow hard during election years, and seldom align perfectly with the values of the people for which speech writers and pundits entertain. Red, blue, green, or other, it doesn’t matter. Common sense needs a place at the table. It was disheartening to listen to Mitt Romney last week, discuss his idea of value as it pertained to public land in the west:

“…“I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land…I don’t know the reason that the federal government owns such a large share of Nevada.  And when I was in Utah at the Olympics there I heard a similar refrain there.  What they were concerned about was that the government would step in and say, “We’re taking this” — which by the way has extraordinary coal reserves — “and we’re not going to let you develop these coal reserves.”  I mean, it drove the people nuts.  Unless there’s a valid, and legitimate, and compelling governmental purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this landSo I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m about to hand it over.” But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable…”  
Forget about the thousands of jobs that rely on these public lands, the tourism and recreational dollars that are spent appreciating these places, and the western way of life which helps define us as a nation. If small business isn’t big business, it goes unnoticed, unless spoken at some town hall political rally. What we own is more important that. These public lands are more important than dollar signs waiting to be further exploited by special interests and political favor, and our natural assets should not be leveraged on the backs of a generation yet to experience places like the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Moab, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, the Poudre, or any of the other places that capture an imagination as to what America is supposed to be.

My name is Sean, and I’m a fly fisherman from Colorado. I take advantage of the opportunities provided to me through the taxes I pay to fly fish here in the west. For that, I am thankful.


Watch Mitt Romney discuss the west here (19:30 is where the quote from this post comes into play): Video
Or, read his quote here: Article

*This blog is not intended to be my outlet for political commentary. As someone who occasionally watches the news and reads a newspaper, there are things I read or hear that I can’t shake, for one reason or another. This just happened to be one of them. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, it doesn’t matter, we all fish the same water.

44 comments:

  1. right there with you brother- mike

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    1. Good to have a few partners in crime. Cheers!

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  2. Oh dear god let's hope people for once use their common sense and not their ignorance. I pray that this idiot doesn't get elected as president. Nothing worse than someone who doesn't even begin to comprehend the importance of the land out west!!! Makes you afraid for the rest of the beauty in America and whether or not it will soon be in jeopardy. I would watch the video, but I just ate a cinnamon role and had coffee and am afraid I could throw up. :) Great post. Tight Lines.

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    1. Trout- This is the same guy who took his family on a summer road trip to most if not all of the National Parks, to "Discover America". Looks like a lot has changed since that trip. I don't care if it's Mitt or any of these other guys, there is way too much disconnect...

      hope the roll stayed down...ha!

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  3. Love this one, Sean. Hope lots of folks are reading it and listening. JEG

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    1. JEG- Thanks. I hope so too. Hopefully this fall our votes aren't cast to the special interests that care of nothing more than dollar signs.

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  4. Great Post on a worthy cause, thanks for sharing!!

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  5. We are not owners of the land, but simply squatters, renters, or just extremely blessed to be able to partake in what in offers. But we certainly, as you point out, are stewards of this vast, and yet dwindling resource. The land is not something to be bartered, sold, granted or willed. It is the foundation on which we choose how to life our lives.

    We can choose to work in harmony with "the land", nurture its, and our own, souls in whatever way is mutually beneficial. Or, as it sometimes appears, we can act possively, with greed and disrespect.

    The land will be be here, in whatever form it is left to survive, largely based on the actions of man. But it will be here...it will be "us" who ultimately disappear. The land, though scarred, will continue to live and breathe as it sees fit. And this may not bode well for species such as humankind.

    The choice is ours, that is for sure, but there are more than just the people's voices that must be heard...

    As usual...nicely done.

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    1. "The land is not something to be bartered, sold, granted or willed. It is the foundation on which we choose how to life our lives"...

      Thanks for the thoughts Dean. Really nicely put. The choice is ours, we just have to be willing to speak up.

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  6. Very well said and it kind of puts in perspective many of the issues we are facing today. As TM said above ,"let's hope people use some common sense" , the only problem with that is that we're dealing with government officials who seem to be more interested about whose pockets they have their hands in than making the right decision. Thanks for bringing to light just a few of the issues we should all be concerned with.

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    1. Jeff- I know, common sense seems like a lacking virtue of politicians these days,any party. Let's just hope that corporations aren't people...

      Thanks for the comment as always.

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  7. Damn....I just can't stand politicians of any kind. Mostly spineless. That's why I love to fish. It sucks those politicians I wish to avoid enter the stream through their actions or inactions. I'll make a stand where I can to prevent idiocy like the Pebble Mine, and opening up roadless areas, or silting up rivers for green lawns. I'll also fish those waters alongside politically minded people so we can get to know each other, and remember we are not politicians but stewards of our lands, families, and communities alike. Thanks for the post.

    PS - you gonna make lunch at Denver Athletic Club tomorrow to hear KD? I'm not certain yet.

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    1. Rhythm- Fishing kinda makes you forget about the everyday bs doesn't it, but you're right, it sucks that decisions made in Washington can and do affect how we enjoy our lands and rivers.

      Well said sir!

      ...I will not be making it down to Denver tomorrow. Apparently these copiers don't sell themselves.If you go, let me know how it was.

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    2. Work to fish, I understand how it is. BTW, I goofed, it's Thurs not tomorrow. I'll report if I make it.

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    3. Cool. I forgot about it completely and have stuff scheduled all week. Hope you can make it.

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  8. This is an outstanding post! You hit the nail squarely on the head, common sense and shared ownership! Bravo my good friend. Bravo!

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    1. Tom- Thanks! Who knew that common sense would need to be discussed when we grew up? Anyway, appreciate you stopping by!

      Cheers

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  9. Hear, hear! Well put, Sanders...

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  10. Well put. Millions of people in America will never own land. Public lands are for many their only means of participating in the outdoors.

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    1. Hopefully more people speak up and make your sentiment known...what's gonna be left when the land is turned into a coal mine, gold mine, Pebble Mine, etc...there has to be some form of compromise.

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    2. What's left will be a list of big, nasty messes that the miners/loggers, etc do not clean up.

      And the bill of what it will cost to clean it up.

      And politicians who say it's too much to pay.

      And some old stories about how "there once was this wild place...."

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  11. My name is Kevin, and I am a fly fisherman from Missouri!
    Very well said my friend!!! Very well said!! Now lets get a few thousand more to shout it!!!

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully more feel the same way.

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  12. In the third paragraph you said, "Butthat". Sorry, don't mean to cheapen what is an excellent entry. I'm reminded of what has been called a Native American proverb: "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." It's probably not really a proverb from said peoples, but it sounds good.

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    1. Did you read that to mean, Sean is such a "butthat" for writing such a thing, or did you read it as, Sean wrote this post, butthat doesn't make much sense?

      ...I'm getting nowhere on getting that little problem fixed. Damn you blogger!

      anyway, I thought about that proverb as well. and it sounds good to me. If only our politicians were so wise.

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    2. Hey! I think it's pretty damn cutting edge. Fashionable, you might say. Like "hitherto" and "whatsoever."

      "butthat"...you've started something, Sanders.

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    3. Cutting edge is definitely what I'm going for :-) Ha!

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  13. Spot on Sanders. It is quite apparent that when Romney went hunting moose....elk....moose, he was doing it on private land.

    Brilliant post. Cheers to you sir.

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    1. Thanks

      Exactly...I suppose that he has never really had to go slumming with the rest of us...he just sees it as dollar signs for private enterprise. It's sad.

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  14. First of all, Mittens can actually read, in many cases online, the reason that (or at least auspices under which) any particular piece of land was acquired by the Federales.

    Second, it's worth noting that the largest single landowner in the country is the DOD. Not just the largest federal agency. The largest LANDOWNER. Period. So obviously you can't talk about de-federalizing land without decomissioning (and cleaning up) DOD properties. Which is a political no-go for any Republican candidate (the answer to any question is never "less military").

    Third, while abuses of protection have most certainly occurred, what have we actually lost? 60 jobs that would have lasted 2 years total? 8 months worth of coal? Compare that to when federal properties are managed based on "highest use" philosophies.....we lose access. We lose species. We lose wild places. And putting any of them back costs taxpayers a lot of money.

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    1. Great point on the DOD and the political fiasco that would cause trying to decommission some of that land.

      It's frustrating that talking points seldom deliver long term solutions, just heat of the battle band aids.

      Thanks for weighing in!

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  15. well put brother, thanks for getting my brain firing this morning! i needed it desperately

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    1. Thanks Blake! Glad I could help get the brain going...ha!

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  16. I am no fan of Mitt Romney. That said, if Romney's stand on land use bothers you( you as in, everyone) then I can't imagine how upset it might make you to see your hard earned tax dollars go to bail out GM, Chrysler and God knows who else. My political bent over the last few years can be summed up in one easy statement: One Vulture, Two Wings. Maybe three if you add the Paulbots. Nice post. I agree with you.

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    1. I'm with you, there are a lot of things that our government does that don't make sense, or I don't agree with. It's just too bad that usually by the time decisions are made in Washington it's too late. I think a little common sense could go a long way...out of any of the parties. It just seems to me that getting elected is the only thing in politics that matters. One vulture indeed...Thanks for the thoughts!

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