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Connection to place to fight for wild spaces

Connection to place to fight for wild spaces

There are some places that are so special that your connection to them is like the relationship with a close relative. These places might not be the amazing Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park or the famous El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, but they are amazing and famous to you.

It’s those places that we fight so hard to protect – and protecting wild spaces is important. We need to protect wild spaces because when they die, it throws the entire ecosystem around it into disarray. Just this week, a study was published that announced that North America has lost more than one in four birds in the past 50 years.

This is only good news if you are in the movie “The Birds.” Birds need wild spaces for food, respite, habitat, and numerous other reasons. Places like lands set aside by the National Wildlife Refuge System, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state fish and game services, and state parks do protect some wild space. But those places did not form from nothing, the came from those who had a connection to place to fight for it.

They formed by people organizing and fighting for their special places – their connection to places that they wanted to protect. At a networking event once, a man said to me, “Your not an anti-hunter, are you?”

“Absolutely not!” I answered. “Hunting plays a big part in conservation.” No, I’m not a hunter. I’m not a fan of early mornings and sitting still in the freezing cold. I also do not think I would enjoy personally seeing an animal die. But I do enjoy a good venison steak.

But hunting permits and tags fund a great deal of conservation. And you know someone who counts down the days until November is going to fight hard to protect those public lands that provide them with space to find their winter meat.

I listened to a speech once by the director of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. He spoke about how hunting was on the decline in young people and how that is a problem. It’s a problem because they rely on hunting permits to help fund conservation efforts throughout the state.

Hunters most definitely have their special places that they fight for too. It’s that connection to the land, that close-relative relationship that causes you fight for protection. It’s the “I grew up hunting here with my dad.” It’s the “I killed my first buck here.” That’s what gives hunters that connection to land.

And just like hunters, hikers also have that deep connection. I have been privileged to have had the opportunities to travel across the country and see so many natural wonders. But when someone asks me where my favorite place is, I always give one answer – the Little Missouri River in Southwest Arkansas. And when I’m speaking about it, I usually preface it with “my favorite place in the world.”

The Winding Stairs in the fall

Now, don’t get me wrong. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. But my main draw to it is that that is where I spent a great deal of time as kid. Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so we went camping. And usually we went places that were in close proximity to where we lived.

Floating down the Little Missouri River with my brother when we were kids

It’s a connection to place that takes up a great amount of space in my memory – from an endless game of war on the banks with my sister (seriously, like multiple days long game), to floating through the chutes of the Winding Stairs on inner tubes, to imagining I was Native American and lived in this special place before Europeans came.

This place is my special place – the place at the top of my list of important places to protect. And when we are passionate about a place, we are more likely to fight for it and take action. We need wild spaces. The more connection we have to the land as individuals, the more wild spaces get protected.

Where is your special place? Why is it important to you?

One Reply to “Connection to place to fight for wild spaces”

  1. One of my very special places is Grand Canyon National Park! It was the first major national park I ever went to. And after seeing it, it completely changed my perspective of the outdoors and made me who I am today!

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