“Get Outside Daily” Is Our Mantra

Parker Schuerman is a field ecologist and land manager in southern Maine.

I have always believed that the greatest gift a parent can give a child is an abiding love for nature, animals and the great outdoors. It is why I’ve spent so much time with my daughters and wife enjoying wildflowers and native plants, hiking, birding, drawing, riding bikes, camping, swimming, taking photographs, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. “Get outside, daily” has been our family mantra. Most of our free time has been spent exploring state and national parks and local land trust preserves.

I was spoiled as a child from the standpoint of outside camping and exploring opportunities. Coming from a family of campers with gourmet “over the fire” cooking experiences, we spent a certain portion of every summer visiting national parks and wildlife refuges in the West and Midwest. Seeing bison, elk, antelope, badgers, coyotes, wolves and even a benign but memorable encounter with a mountain lion, was a hallmark of my experiences as a young man. We enjoyed the vistas found in The Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Organ Pipe National Monument and Yellowstone National Park, and so many others.

After a camping trip in the mountains of New Mexico, I remember getting up early and breaking camp. We arrived before sunrise at the Bosque del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. As the sun came up, we witnessed a visual carpet of millions of sandhill cranes and snow geese rise up and snap themselves into a linear explosion of noise and color. This was repeated several times in a row. Then the most spectacular event occurred: a bald eagle soared high above the river plain, dove directly into the middle of a shallow lake and caused a virtual tornado of millions of geese, cranes and ducks — all while being illuminated by the rising sun. This exuberance and beautiful celebration of life left my friend and me speechless. This is only one of many experiences that has brought me a sense of awe and oneness with the natural world.

Our national parks, forests, and national wildlife refuges are precious jewels. They are resources for recreation and re-charging. Preserved and conserved land provides a main foundation for our ecological and economic well-being. By setting aside important lands and ensuring the upkeep of our current conserved lands and parks, we balance the needs of wildlife, water quality and recreation.

So many of our country’s parks and public lands written about in these love notes would not exist but for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. It’s why Congress should fund the program permanently. Follow the movement along at #FundLWCF. Learn more here.…………………………………………………………………………………….

Would you like to write about public lands that you cherish? Please email Mary Jo Brooks at brooksm@nwf.org for guidelines.

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National Wildlife Federation — Our Public Lands

National Wildlife Federation — Our Public Lands

The National Wildlife Federation public lands program advocates for our public lands and waters, wildlife and the right of every American to enjoy them.