The public lands we love and enjoy have been in the crossfire more in the past year than ever before. Just months ago, bill HR 621 was proposed by Utah Congressman Chaffetz, whose mission it was to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands. This land, which belongs to citizens of our country, would have been privatized for mining or drilling purposes, reducing the footprint of what is ours and turning protected land into pilfered land.
Thankfully, the people spoke out, and bill HR 621 was killed in January.
But this just highlights the current danger faced by our public lands and the need to pay attention to that danger — and how important it is for us to get outdoors. If you love outdoor recreation and our public spaces, getting outside means spending time with what you love. It means reconnecting with the beauty that makes America great. It means taking advantage of what is ours — and leaving it better for the next generation.
Outdoor time puts into perspective what some lawmakers have become blind to: America is more than just a GDP. America is acre after acre of pristine — and protected — land. The moment we stop protecting it is the moment we stop respecting what makes this country great.
By spending time outdoors, we are affirming the existence and protection of our spaces. We are supporting the ethical use of these lands, and encouraging outdoor recreation to continue.
How to spend more time in the outdoors this season
If you’re finding it hard to actually get outside, you’re not alone. There seems to be a growing sentiment among outdoor-loving people that the next thing they do outside needs to bigger, better, longer than the last. The weekend warrior endeavors to spend her entire weekend from sunup on Saturday to sundown on Sunday on the perfectly planned trip.
But she would be just as happy — and would likely get out a lot more — with micro trips: several hours planned in advance or spontaneously embraced, with nothing to do but explore. Put time on your calendar this weekend for a micro trip. Go for 4 hours, spend time outside, and don’t plan too much. Just go! And don’t put too much pressure on yourself to spend every waking hour outside. Setting the precedent of a 4-hour tour lets you relax, have fun, and come back to society refreshed and appreciative.
Make your voice heard and stay in the loop
There is a great set of outdoor enthusiasts who is using their full force to let our leaders know just how much we value our public lands. Perhaps the most prominent is the Keep it Public movement. Keep it Public is a coalition of thought leaders and outdoor enthusiasts united in the name of public lands. If this rings true with you, you can follow along and participate with the coalition through their website.
At the same time, brands have come to the fore as some of the most committed members of the Keep it Public movement. For instance, Patagonia has been instrumental in publicizing and creating actionable plans around protecting Bears Ears, a section of Utah’s vast wilderness that came in lawmakers’ crosshairs over the last few years. They have gone so far as to create a multimedia experience of Bears Ears, which you can see here.
We are united by the outdoors. United in good times and in bad.
And the more time we spend outdoors, the more united we are in its magnificence and protection.