A Window to the Past
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Fall 2021 - Written in the Rockies
We should keep our public lands for the future, as they are a window to the past. I find it unfair that I can't see a gargantuan herd of a thousand bison charging past me. I find it unfair that I can't see a grizzly bear in Colorado, in it’s once native homeland. I find it unfair that I can't see the full scale of forests of sequoia trees that used to exist on the pacific coast. Because of the blunders of generations before me, who were driven by greed and a lust for power and money, I will never have those experiences that people only 200 years ago would have had. Experiences that had been occurring for hundreds of thousands of years. 
That being said, there are certain places in America, protected as parks and forest reserves, where I can still do those things, because others thought ahead. I can still witness bison grazing in their God-given homeland in Yellowstone, where they have existed since the last ice age. In Denali, I can gaze at a grizzly bear and her cubs, freely meandering by a stream as they did historically. In Great Basin I am able to be in the presence of bristlecone pine trees, who shared the earth with the Egyptians as they built the Great Pyramids. I can gaze upon the glacially-carved peaks and lakes of Glacier, and ponder how many thousands of feet of ice used to fill those chasms. I can still feel the sheer size of the sequoia trees in Redwood while walking alongside them, thinking about how much they have persevered through and and events they have seen. 
I easily could have never been able to experience any of these encounters. A few individuals such as George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Adolf Murie, Rachel Carson, and Stephen Mather looked forward and thought about how future generations could never be exposed to the same experiences they had. They had these thoughts, then worked to wake the sleeping giant that is the American public. They frightened themselves and the American people with the most horrendous possible outcomes. Seeing every sandstone arch torn down and disposed of. Every canyon filled with reservoir water. Every bighorn sheep killed for its horns. These individuals thought about a frightening future where the people could never lose themselves in nature as they did, and were disgusted at that thought. They fought to protect these places, against all odds, and they “won”. The idea of winning these battles is never permanent. Legislation can be reversed, promises broken, and new deals made.
These dedicated individuals showed the people that to visit these places is their birthright, and then mobilized them to protect these places. It is up to each generation to pick up a shield, and defend our national treasures from those who wish to spoil them. It only takes one generation to cut down a forest, dam a river, flood a canyon, or bulldoze a tract of wild country. It takes each and every generation to stand up and hold the line against the destruction of our most precious and vital gardens of life. Each and every person should be afforded the chance to experience the same intimate moments with nature as those in history did. The silence of a lonely mountaintop. A place where elk and pronghorn roam freely. Where the salmon turn the rivers red. A place where humans can venture to once again connect to their humanity.

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