Personally, I can’t imagine who I would be, or what my life would be like without fly fishing. What would my life be like if I had never had the opportunity to walk along a river, search for rising trout and match a hatch? What if I didn’t understand entomology, river currents and trout behavior? Would I understand the interconnectivity of snowpack to cold rivers and their impact on trout? Could I have appreciated that, like an aquatic insect whose sole purpose is to emerge, reproduce and fall back to the river that gave it life in the first place; we too are intertwined and have a responsibility to ensure that future generations are able to have similar experiences, and as a result want to give back to the places and communities that helped to shape them.
Fly fishing is a truly rewarding sport, but it’s not just about catching fish. It’s about taking the time to listen to the river, slowing down the hands of time and connecting to something bigger than you. When else does your hearing become so acutely sharp while bushwhacking through willows because there may be bear or moose nearby that you hear a leaf drop? It’s about walking along the Firehole River with your friend, Benjy Duke, and having a herd of buffalo stand between you and the parking lot where your car, and beer, are residing.
It is through fly fishing, and the pursuit of trout, that I have been blessed to have had these experiences, and almost all of these experiences happened on public lands. Like the mayfly, we all have a responsibility to give back to the places that shaped us so that others can have similar experiences and want to protect them. Because on a planet with finite resources and a growing population, our public lands not only need to be protected, but are precious resources that all Americans have a right to. Teddy Roosevelt sums it up pretty well here:
“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.” – Theodore Roosevelt
We, as Americans, have a right to public lands and a duty to protect them. We are skating on very thin ice on a number of fronts, including climate change, and may very well be the last generation to have an opportunity to do something about it. What we do today is important, because at this point, we are exchanging a day of humanity’s life for it.
So, why is protecting public lands so important to us? For Emerger Strategies, it’s not only about the experiences I have had personally, but wanting others to be able to have the same. When you are fortunate enough to have spent so many nights camping and days fishing on public lands, you want to protect them and know they will always be there.
For the love of trout, protect our public lands. #ProtectPublicLands