Last year I was visited by a Spanish colleague, “James,” and I took him on a fishing trip on the American River. James had fished throughout Europe, and during our time together we took the opportunity to reminisce and embellish on our prior fishing experiences.
The contrast between our respective experiences was striking. I learned to fish by simply driving short distances from my home in central California.
Because there is limited access to public lands in Europe, James fishes by applying months in advance to reserve an expensive time slot on private fishing streams. James couldn’t believe the access and quality to essentially free fishing in the U.S. America’s diverse public lands contain our best fishing streams, alpine lakes, mountain peaks, desert landscapes, wild flora and fauna, and awe-inspiring vistas, something I often take for granted.
I am concerned by what I consider misguided efforts by the Trump administration to reduce some public land protections. For virtually all uses of our public lands, including resource development, there is already good, cheap access. The Trump push to weaken environmental standards, increase mining and energy exploration, and downsize or eliminate national monuments reduces our access to hunting and fishing.
Public lands generate billions of dollars for the federal government through excise taxes collected from hunters and fishermen our equipment purchases.
California’s population has more than tripled since I spent my boyhood vacations camping alongside Sierra mountain streams. The value of our remaining public wildlands will only increase, as critical refuge for wildlife habitat, as vital sources of clean waters, and as an egalitarian playground for sportsmen, hikers, campers, or those simply seeking temporary escape from their urban existence.
So I ask Rep. Tom McClintock, as chair of the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, to join me and other California sportsmen in being a good steward of our nation’s public lands. Over a century ago President Theodore Roosevelt espoused the benefits of public land conservation for species habitat and sporting opportunities. Sportsmen have contributed mightily toward the financing of his vision- which has served us well, and should be protected, not dismantled.
Ken Beer, Sloughhouse