There was no notice of National Public Lands Day
In my last column, I mentioned that I was going to escape from the analysis paralysis of job related paperwork and visit three of my favorite outdoor haunts.Last week was the fulfillment of that desire, with the exception of substituting a place that shall remain nameless for a trip to Camp Hale. And no, I’m not going to even hint at where I went.It was an absolutely gorgeous fall week, with sunny skies and temperatures warm enough to leave the jacket in my pack. Every once in a while it’s good to be reminded that my real desk is the outdoors.But all that activity got blood rushing to my head and made me ponder a question that had been resting in the back of my mind all week, “Where was the media coverage for National Public Lands Day this year?”In case you missed it, the day fell on Saturday, Sept. 29. I did my part by spending the day outdoors helping a regional nonprofit with their “Peering Into the Past” program.It’s really ironic that last Friday’s Post Independent carried the article “Report: Nature bigger than energy in Rockies’ economy,” yet made no mention whatsoever of National Public Lands Day.The 32-page report by the Wilderness Society is titled “Natural Dividends, Wildland Protection and the Changing Economy of the Rocky Mountain West.”The report says, “Contrary to a common misperception, the economy of the American West no longer depends solely on traditional resource-extraction industries. … Public lands … are crucial to this economic equation.”Billions of dollars are spent in the Rocky Mountain West annually that are ultimately tied to recreational use of public lands. One would think this might prompt the outdoor recreation industry to celebrate National Public Lands Day.Looking at the Web site of the father of four-wheel drive vehicles, Jeep, produced zero mention of public lands. Aren’t their TV commercials constantly showing peopling enjoying the beauty of public lands?All the Web sites I visited, whether they dealt with snowmobiles or ATVs, gave the same coverage to National Public Lands Day … nothing.To be fair to all my motorhead friends, I looked at other outdoor recreation sites. Same thing, nothing. The Access Fund, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Colorado Fourteeners, the Colorado Mountain Club. Nada.Apparently we all take for granted that our public lands will always be there for us to enjoy, whenever and however we choose.Besides, too many days are devoted to too many causes for us to take time out of our busy lives for celebrating one special day devoted to public lands.So what would happen if the next time you went to your favorite place on public land to recreate and found a “Closed until Further Notice” sign?Don’t think it could happen? I’ve seen national forests completely closed due to extreme fire danger. Roads, trails or caves can be closed on public land because of resource damage.Maybe next year we’ll all celebrate National Public Lands Day together.With almost 30 years of service devoted to agencies that manage public lands, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week.
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