Happy National Public Lands Day, Mountain Chicks! Though I’ve been traveling Mexico for the last four months, my heart is very much home in The States right now because of today’s importance! All politics aside, we are truly fortunate to live in a country that dedicates a day to the very thing that we love the most…public land! Take if from me when I say that the ease of getting to a trailhead, the bountiful amount of areas that exist to recreate in and the access to those areas should not be taken for granted. With that said, the 30% of America’s public land is something we need to make sure stays public. With all of our Mountain Chick magic, we can keep the land open for each other and for future public land lovers, too!
The theme for National Public Lands Day 2017 is, “Learn, Play, Serve”. Everything from the coast to the mountains, to the deserts, waterfalls and swimming holes in between is our land (insert Lion King quote about everywhere the sun touches!). As Mountain Chicks, we are well aware of the resources, benefits and experiences those landscapes previously mentioned provide for us and we definitely don’t have a problem playing in them! However, action always needs to be taken to preserve our favorite places. So, what can you do? Is one of your favorite trails at risk to get shut down? Is your sacred wilderness spot being threatened with more development more than you feel it should have? Here’s what you can do to serve your land if you haven’t done so already or weren’t quite sure how to get started…
How to serve what serves you:
1) Find a trail, a waterfall, or something that is in danger of becoming inaccessible by the general public and be passionate about keeping it public. Passion is the key! Throw yourself into the opportunities that local officials provide for the public. This can consist of attending public meetings, as well as phone-in meetings. Engage with the local forest services and such. These services exist to serve you. These services are duty bound to listen to us. Trust me chicas, they will hear you all out!
2) After public meetings comes a public comment period. This is the time to submit written comments sent via email, voicemails left on office phones and cell phones and in person visits to whichever service office your trail, waterfall, etc., consists of. This is your time to tell the service leaders and lawmakers and politicians how you really feel, albeit, respectfully. Public comments are necessary in the process of shaping public land access and the officials love to hear what we have to say. Our opinions are what help shape the outcome. The more we speak up, the more we are heard.
3) Keep yourself and your fellow land lovers updated on the processes mentioned above! Remember that, “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence. –Jim Watkins”.
4) Number 4 is comprised of the things Mountain Chicks already rock at! Simple and effective ways to maintain access to public land consist of regular trail maintenance, the extraction of invasive species and the classic act of picking up plane old trash. I know lots of you ladies do so already, but in any case, before you leave for a hike, throw an extra bag in you pack and pick up trash as you hike out of a spot.
The more we follow those four simple steps, the more we can continue to have access to public lands. In turn, following those four steps creates less private property and fewer companies that come in and monopolize on an area, eventually running out the common public land user as a means to exploit resources and develop areas that development shouldn’t come to in the first place. Mountain Chicks do it better…and there is no better feeling than the immense sense of satisfaction after giving back to what gives us so much. If that’s not purpose, ladies, I don’t know what is!
As you head out today on your hikes, cleanups, hum the words to the song, “This land is your land, this land is my land, this land was made for you and me!”. Today we can learn, play and serve and have a blast doing it all as stewards for the land…as Mountain Chicks!
Arizona Ambassador and Arizona Chapter Member
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