Public lands are like family and for me, they play those same archetypal roles. From the wise grandparents that encourage you to pause for reflection to the strict parent that insists you follow the rules and respect the order of life. The loving aunt who cares for you, reminding you of the beauty that exists, and the raucous sibling egging you on to climb higher, test your limits, and push further. While the land teaches us so much, it is also in our care.
Despite the rugged nature and resilience of the land, it is still vulnerable and at risk to today’s modern man with our use and overuse. Like a family, the land loves and provides, however it is not infinite.
I often repeat the motto “think globally, act locally”. As a public land owner, I seek to be a good steward by being a kind, responsible trail user both at home and abroad. I volunteer for local trail work days and I donate to local trail and conservation organizations in addition to purchasing my annual hunting and fishing licenses. I practice treading lightly by choosing responsible camp sites and staying on designated trails. I always travel with a pocket or sack to pick up trail litter. While the local efforts help my community and my own peace of mind, they are not always reciprocated by rest of the world.
It is my hope that more individuals will work collectively to influence positive global trends of conservation and responsible land use. To do this I recommend seeking out connections to the larger organizations, politicians, or actions that mimic your efforts at home. Find out if your elected congress person or senator promotes land conservation and preservation and how you can support them or those officials that do. It will take work and effort, but it is our responsibility. We owe it to our land, our family, and we owe it to the generations of Public Land Owners to come.
About the Author: Justin Reiter is a Big Agnes Ambassador and world-class snowboarder, among many other noteworthy accomplishments. Justin travels the world, exploring and recreating in hard-to-reach places. Whether overlanding, touring by motorcycle or mountain bike, he is always up for the next adventure. @justin_reiter