In celebration of #NationalForestWeek🌲and the momentum of the #GreatAmericanOutdoorsAct⛰️ (Call your rep), here is my #publiclands🇺🇸 story (Thread)...
2) I was born in Northern California where I caught my first fish (bluegill) on Lake Shasta and my dad hunted waterfowl and dove on friends' farmland.
3) We moved to Texas when I was 8. TX is 95% privately owned, and Dad didn't know anyone who'd let him hunt on their land, so he packed up his guns. I've never been hunting. Instead, he took me fishing, and I haven't stopped since.
4) I loved fishing, and Dad and I began to think of ourselves as serious sportsmen. But there wasn't an outdoor experience to be had in my part of TX that didn't require fees, permission, knowing a guy, or at the very least rubbing elbows with a dozen other sportsmen.
5) Even thought of myself as a keen outdoorsman, even tho my only outdoor experiences were fishing & tent-camping at various lakes. I asked Dad how much he thinks he spent on boat ramp & camp fees. "Small fortune, but it was worth it." It was worth it because we could afford it.
6) At 16, Dad & I went backpacking in the Trinity Alps (CA), which was my 1st real wilderness experience. We brought our trout poles--the 1st time my dinner depended on my skills as an angler. After that, camping at TX lakes just didn't offer enough of a rugged experience for me.
7) In college, I transferred to a school in the middle of Portland, Oregon. OR's like a weekend warrior's theme park. Backpacking became an annual pastime, and I quickly transitioned from bass fisherman to a trout, salmon, and steelhead angler.
8) OR's beautiful, and there are outdoor experiences within an hour in any direction from Portland, but I still had to go pretty far if I didn't want to jockey for a spot on the river full of plunkers. The pic below is near Bend.
9) Wilderness is a relative term. One man's wilderness experience could be another man's walk in the park. But few people who've been to Alaska can argue that it is not made up of the most rugged, vast wilderness on the continent....
10) 2 college buddies & I drove through Canada to Kodiak, AK, to work in a cannery for the summer. I loved everything about AK. But watching a community collectively wring its hands over the prospect of a poor season enlightened me to how fragile even massive ecosystems can be.
11) Thought I'd live the rest of my life in AK "running wild & free," like the Hobo Jim song. So next summer I went back & worked on a tender boat, tendering reds in Bristol Bay & pinks in SE AK. I'd never seen so much desolate land than Bristol Bay(Ugashik River👇) or so many...
12) ...shades of green than in SE AK. The grandness and vastness of AK is frighteningly beautiful, and I wanted more of it. I wanted to be a part of the most beautiful land I've ever seen.
13) I didn't end up in AK. I married the only girl I've ever kissed & we found teaching jobs in Southern Idaho, in view of the Sawtooth Mnts. What I found in ID is the most freedom I've ever known. Just 15 min from my house and I could be in the middle of a sage desert...
14) ...where I can hike, shoot, camp, and not see another person for days. Some might find this desert boring, even ugly, but amongst the sage, I could imagine being the only man in the world, and that's beautiful.
15) I've fished rivers completely alone and caught fish I feel undeserving to have caught--in waters fished by Ernest Hemingway.
16) In a sense, ID is a kinda microcosm of AK's vast wilderness. In ID's deserts & mountains, I've never felt more free, more human, or more proud to be American. I now have a daughter, Lucy, & I'll teach her to fish & appreciate public land that she can pass on to her kids...
17) Because that's what public land is all about. It is a part of our American identity and is to be passed down to every generation of American, thanks in part to President Theodore Roosevelt. I can never take public land for granted again, and I never want to live in TX again.
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