Public Lands Help Ease the Transition into a New Life

Russell Kuhlman is the executive director of the Nevada Wildlife Federation.

As I crossed the California/Nevada state line, the last thing I expected to happen as I started a new job in a new state — living away from my family — was that my new hometown would be shut down one month after I arrived.

For weeks leading up to the move, I had looked forward to living in Reno and visiting new restaurants, breweries and sporting goods stores. But just after I finished setting up my new home, all restaurants and non-essential stores were ordered to close. After quickly burning through various episodes on Netflix, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. Shortly after leaving my front door, I was on a dirt hiking trail not knowing where it would lead. I purposely left my phone in my pocket because I enjoyed the uncertainty of my destination. At mile 3, I noticed the familiar U.S. Forest Service sign indicating I was about to enter national forest land. Knowing that I could walk from my house and be on public land was a great added bonus I had not anticipated.

During this time of quarantine and shutdowns, many people — including myself — spend countless hours working at our computers while sitting at our desk. Taking care of our physical and mental health is more important than ever. Having public lands out my door has been a huge advantage for me to strengthen both. If public lands were inaccessible for me now, trying to balance a new career, in a new home, in a new city would be a tough lift. It is also beneficial that with healthcare workers and facilities at maximum capacity, the ability to self-heal while using public lands seems like a win-win.

My professional career started on public lands back in 2012 when I accepted the position of seasonal biologist technician at Devil’s Tower National Monument. Little did I know back then that fighting for public lands would be a central role in my future. Now that I work for the Nevada Wildlife Federation, my fight to keep public lands in public hands is my number one priority. Ensuring that public lands are available to all individuals for recreation is vital in order to keep us healthy and sane, not only in these times, but for all times.

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.