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Youths encouraged to write the next chapter of our public lands legacy

It’s the gift giving season. For those of us who are parents, that means making our lists and checking them twice. Personally, I’m in no danger of forgetting what my son wants.  With the time honored technique employed by three year olds worldwide, he’s been hammering his list into my skull all year.

“I want to go fishing!”

“Dada, Dada can I come hunting with you? I’ll be quiet…promise.”

“School is no fair!… a wanna go on a binocular hike.”

“My bed is no fun! Pleeeeeease let’s sleep in the tent again?”

He doesn’t realize it, but what he’s constantly pestering me for are his public lands. As a young American, he was born into a proud tradition of hunting, fishing and outdoor adventure. Luckily for him, that heritage came complete with the national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands that make it possible. He’s never known a different world, so naturally he takes this bounty for granted.

As his father, I can’t take it for granted – acres of wide open space, and the freedom of outdoor pursuits are beyond the capacity of any magical workshop. To paraphrase Mark Twain “They aren’t making it any more”. These gifts can only be passed from one generation to the next.

They are, however, gifts well within reach of The Grinch. At this moment there are several bad bills working their way around Washington that seek to sell off your public lands, require their industrial development, limit public involvement, delegitimize science-based management or otherwise threaten the future of our hunting and fishing.

If a lifetime of wide open spaces, and the freedom to roam with a rod, gun, bow or pair of binoculars is on your kid’s list, you can help make it a reality – and give them a unique opportunity in the bargain. Please encourage your student to share what public lands mean to him or her in the debut Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development  Youth Essay Contest. The contest is open to youths 15-19. Five winners will receive a trip to Washington D.C. and the opportunity to deliver their message directly to their own congressional delegation, leaders from the administration, and national conservation groups.

Washington may not be the North Pole, but the fate of untold magical places is written there . I don’t know about you, but I want our kids to write it.

Click here for contest details: http://bit.ly/1cwDnJZ

About the Author
Matthew Copeland

Matthew Copeland works closely with NWF’s affiliate, the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, sportsmen and women, agency personnel and elected officials throughout Wyoming to ensure that wildlife, and wildlife-related recreation are fully considered in decisions affecting our public lands.  Based in Lander Wyoming with his wife, Karly, their young son, Everett, and assorted household critters.

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