Written by Shauna Sherard
As Sally Jewell sat for her confirmation hearing as the Secretary of the Interior this morning, there seemed to be a general tenor underlining all questions and answers, a tenor that applies directly to anglers and hunters.
Balance – the word was said 20 times if it was said once. It’s a concept we as sportsmen have been touting for years. And it’s something we whole-heartedly believe in.
For years Ms. Jewell has been in the business of recreation. Indeed, many of us have probably supported her at one point or another, spending our dividends with glee. But as Secretary of Interior, we feel she should know our alter-egos intimately – our hunting and fishing sides. Sportsmen being in the business of balance, it’s clear we should be on a first name basis.
So, in the spirit of introductions, a few things about us:
1. We have more commonalities than differences.
Sportsmen are not that different than mountain climbers in spirit. We seek. We aspire. We set goals and then sweat for those goals. We always look to the next horizon. Our love of the land is deeply seated within our genes. Like mountain climbers, we do things that seem crazy to the rest of the world, but they come from a deep-seated need to be connected to the world around us
2. We believe public lands are for all to use
While energy is an important part of our economy, it is not the only use of our public lands. Yes, these lands are economic engines, but the recreation they support are sustainable engines. They create jobs for rural economies and perhaps more importantly, healthier and happier populations.
3. We know these places D.C. talks about by heart.
Sportsmen are the walking souls of public lands. We know each nook and cranny. We can tell you where the deer and the antelope play. We can also tell you where they sleep, where they eat, and where they have done all of the above since our grandfathers hunted the same land. We are not just observers of the land, we are part of it. Use our knowledge, but also respect it. We know that public lands are for the use and enjoyment of all. But we’ve also been burned in the past. Don’t be surprised if we appear gun shy.
4. We understand your challenge.
It has been said that one of the biggest challenges you will face is to re-engage America’s video gaming, plugged in, electrified youth on the value of conservation and public lands. Hunters and anglers have been doing this for decades. The very core of our sport revolves around the fact that we pass it down to our children. In fact, to call it sport in some ways belittles the commitment of its participants. It is not sport, it is heritage.