Those Monument visits were an excellent reminder for my Wife and I, the adults in the crew, and a tremendous lesson for my daughter, the next generation, regarding just how special & precious US public lands are, and how important it is to preserve some of our most scenic, sacred, or otherwise sensitive areas of wilderness for the ages. For me, as an outdoor and wildlife photographer, it is absolutely vital to my vocation that there are places where humans "leave only footprints". For others, whose connections to the land are more ancient and intense spiritual, it is a preservation of their heritage and as essential to their cultural existence as anything else they could imagine. I have always admired folks who maintain a spiritual connection to the Earth, the elements & our cousins the animals.
Reading of the recent political rumblings regarding a current review of policies relating to Parks and Monuments really set me on my heels. I was sure that if there was something everyone who visited public lands could easily agree on it is that the US National Parks and Monuments are the most bright and shining example of our American-ness. Our shared commitment to preserving and sharing the heritage of the land for all, in perpetuity. But as long as there are people, their will be conflicting goals and ideals. At least THAT is something constant, our differences. Preserving cultural and heritage sites is a meaningful acknowledgement and celebration of just that, the rich and varied differences in the landscape, and its flora and fauna, including humans. But alas, one of our differences of opinion, at least for me, is with folks who place no value on natural resources not being forcefully extracted and exploited for a few someones economic profit.
For my part, I am always enchanted by the landscape and it's non-mechanical, yet highly industrious inhabitants. I could sit and observe and photograph them for hours, days, and weeks at a time. Sharing those images, selling some of them for economic gain, seems to be and industrious and profitable use of the wild-lands to me. Many folks will never have the means to visit these places, and for image-makers among us who do, I think most of them would tell you it is almost a duty to make and share images of those places to stir peoples souls & imaginations, and to fuel their dreams. So I intend to stand in alignment with the Alt National Parks Organization and others like them to defend existing public land designations, and battle for more. To me creating them always was, and remains so to this day, Americas Best Idea. An idea, underlying an ideal worth supporting with time and effort. I'm all in. Join me?