Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gonna Sleep with One Eye Open

Confession: I have taken for granted the large number of public lands available to me as a citizen of Wisconsin.  While I do not have the independent means to spend much time in the West, I have always taken for granted the large amount of public lands out there, available to my fellow hunters and maybe some day in the future, for myself.

Then a podcast by Randy Newberg got me wondering if those Federal lands were as secure as I hoped.  Then I started reading about plans to sell land owned by the Wisconsin DNR.

Doubt: I do not know that it is in the best interest of the state of Wisconsin to retain every parcel of land that is deeded to it but neither am I confident the decision making body will be immune from the impact of lobbying.

Fact: When I look at the lands under review, I recognize some of those places of having value to me as an outdoorsman.  Some of the pictures I took earlier in the week a areas I use to train my dogs are under review.

Are there other places I could use?  Yes.  Should these be sold? I don't know.

Not having a solid opinion does not make for moving blog writing.  I do agree with the idea offered by Patrick Durkin at the State Journal,

When you see agency chiefs and other politicians on TV this fall promoting deer hunting while looking silly in their barely used blaze-orange duds, ask if they’ve hunted any of the state-owned lands they hope to sell in 2017.

In fact, ask if they’ve hunted any public lands in Wisconsin — county, state or federal. It’s a fair question for politicians who claim they care about hunting’s future and making more land accessible to hunters.
The thing is, public lands allow for the democratization of hunting.  You don't have to know anybody.  You don't have to be rich.  You don't have to sign on to your buddy's hunting ethic as part of a group.

So long as you stay within state regulations, you can hunt the way you like, with the people you like, with the equipment you like as long as you like.  This is the gift of public land.  This is how I got back into hunting after taking a couple of decades off.

So auctioning off a few acres here or there doesn't bother me that much.  Wisconsin has a lot of public land and even more private land open to public access. I will be watching, however, that giving an inch does not encourage our representatives in Madison to try to take a mile.

As for those federal lands, "Hands off!"

I am not fool enough to think the Federal Government and efficiently manage those lands but the ability of the Federal Government to partner with states in the management of Federal Land should silence some of the critics of federal land management practices.

Besides, do we really want our Federal Forests put to efficient use?

Either way.  I am now aware and wary.  I'll be keeping an eye on the issue in the months and years to come, even in my sleep.

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