What started off as an average hike in late October turned into a bit of a scare. Shenandoah National Park appeared to be on fire with color during my recent visit but little did I know what this trip had in store for me. The highest elevations boasted the brightest fall colors from oak, hickory, and maple trees, illustrating a typical yet breathtakingly beautiful fall day in the temperate zone.
Throughout the summer we’ve invited you to participate in shaping President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. Nearly a quarter million of you have engaged — either by attending one of the more than 25 “listening and learning” sessions the Administration held across the country or by sending in your thoughts and ideas to the America’s Great Outdoors website.
There’s no doubt: America is going through some rough economic times. As calls mount for tightening the country’s financial belt, there’s much discussion from Capitol Hill to Main Street America regarding how to maximize the bang from our tax-collected buck. It’s times like this that make folks who care about public lands nervous.
Editor’s note:This story originally appeared in Wilderness Magazine, our annual publication that features in-depth coverage and features about the day’s most pressing conservation issues. Become a member and receive a free copy!
Each year millions of visitors recreate on public lands, places within our national forests and national parks, and untold more on Bureau of Land Management lands. They hike, bike, swim, fish and canoe across the hundreds of millions of acres we are lucky to call every American’s birthright. In fact, recreation is the main reason a lot of us get out on our public lands.
Last month, I had the pleasure of joining a group of Wilderness Society friends and supporters on a four day trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. I can think of no better way to have kicked off National Wilderness Month than spending it with fellow wilderness lovers rafting one of the wildest and most pristine rivers in the United States, all the while surrounded by 2.3 million acres of designated Wilderness in the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness.
Getting Youth in to the Wilderness – that was the simple goal of the budding “Y2W” project the climate team launched last August as a joint undertaking of The Wilderness Society and The Y – in this case, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. As reported on below by our intrepid hiker and youth mentor, Neil Shader, this maiden hike was milestone for all involved. It worked for The Y – because TWS made it possible for four city kids to hike a beautiful portion of the Appalachian Trail.
My favorite weekends of my childhood began with my dad stuffing duffle bags, lanterns, mess kits, sleeping bags, a tent and cooler into the trunk of our car. Everything else was strapped to the roof with bungee cords. My family—including our beloved dog, Gibson—would set out on our camping trips. Sometimes we took 94-East to the Indiana Dunes National Park.