The Boundary Waters Reconnect My Family to Each Other and to the Natural World
Jason Dinsmore is the Midwest director of conservation partnerships for the National Wildlife Federation.
Public lands are the great equalizer. They ensure the democracy of hunting, fishing, trapping, and outdoor recreation. Regardless of race, class, culture, or socio-economic status, we are all owners of millions of acres of publicly accessible land and water.
For me and my family, public lands are a gateway to outdoor traditions. We’re transplants. Ten years ago, we moved from Michigan to buy a veterinary hospital in Rochester, MN. In doing so, we left the lakes, woods, and fields that I had grown up hunting and fishing in. Over a century of outdoor traditions in Northern Michigan had to be retooled, relearned, and re-applied to Minnesota. Without publicly accessible land and water in our newly adopted state, this would not have been possible.
My children, now 6 and 10 years old, readily take to the woods and fields with me as we chase grouse, pheasant, turkey, and squirrels. They’re at home on the water, in the boat, canoe, kayak or on paddleboards. I see public lands anew, through their eyes.
One of my favorite places is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Area, which has received funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A six hour drive from our home, you have to really want to escape to get there. But there’s solace in that trek that work, school, sports, and other stresses of our “normal” life, will be left behind. Once there, we are free. The kids spend the whole day in or on the water. In the evening. our exhausted bodies fall asleep in front of the fire before waking to the sounds of wolves, loons, and other wildlife. The Boundary Waters reconnect my family members to each other and to the natural world. They restore our souls.
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.
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