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If We Lose Wilderness...


 

 

Sam Soholt standing atop his repurposed Blue Bird school bus.

 

What a wonderful world we live in! So much to learn, so much to discover, so much to understand. Our days are only boring if we let them be. Lately, my mind has been drifting to this quote from a guy named Harvey Broome because it seems to have such vast, deep meaning;

“If we lose wilderness, we lose forever knowledge of what the world was.”

Such a statement makes me wonder what wild places are really worth to mankind...

History is our most valuable tether, grounding us, reminding us of who we are, where we came from, what we’re made of. In the most simple, purest form, history can help chart our course forward through the filter of past experience. Wilderness is a canvas of historical cause and effect events, positive and negative.I don’t think anyone has the knowledge to be able to attach a true value to wilderness. One may be able to hang a price tag on it based upon its extractables yet, I feel that is a meager, reduced value, like slavery’s valuation of a human being. How does one consider and quantify the value of life? What is the value of wild places that still operate on timeless, self-sustaining, unchanging principles?

 

“Public Landowner”, Sam Soholt, has a burning passion for wild places, especially those owned by you, me, and Sam; the general public. Sam bought an old Blue Bird school bus, renovated it, and set out on a 10,000 mile road trip to follow and document public lands usage, building awareness of our publicly owned wild country as it's value, in this modern day, is at risk, being viewed through the lens of extraction and certain public lands are living on the brink of solvency. Thanks to Soholt, and many other organizations and individuals (maybe you!) that have also joined the fight for our publicly-owned wild places(our nation’s public lands system, born of the vision of conservation-minded president Theodore Roosevelt, are completely unique to the United States), the future of these wild places seems bright.

 

 

 

Sam's Public Lands Bus transformation + snapshots of his trip across this great land of ours as well as the simple, powerful podcast headset through which he shares his passion for land, life, and freedom.

 

 

 

While public lands, such as Yellowstone or Yosemite, for example, are of vital importance, 60.2% of the entire United States land base still falls under private ownership(including Alaska who's land mass is equal to nearly half of the lower 48 and boasts a whopping 95.8% public land percentage... a much larger % than 60.2% of the lower 48 that the vast majority of us call home is privately owned). Cultural values & market demands are two of the most active drivers for land management decisions, both private and public, but especially private where a decision can be made literally overnight to be acted on the next day, affecting every generation henceforth whereas many of the public land management decisions come at a snails pace which can sometimes be of benefit as it can help safe guard them from short-sighted, fad-type decisions. A significant portion of wild lands are privately held, and while you may ask yourself, "If I can't walk on it, what good does it do me?"... these lands are VITAL to the health of our planet. Extraction or agricultural decisions made on these lands effect all of us, not only in what is produced and ultimately brought to market for us to consume but also the emissions, chemicals, and unwritten "land-use ethics" potentially violated

The decision to overgraze land or to regenerate it.

The decision to build a feedlot or a renewable energy field.

The decision to plow land under or foster native prairie or other vital pollinator habitat.

The decision to extract metal/minerals/gases via strip mining or use to safer, more efficient means.

The decision to divert native waterways or learning innovative ways to conserve and utilize rain water.

The decision to clear native forest for industrial production or managing the forest holistically, responsibly, and regeneratively.

The decision to build a dam or reintroduce and support habitat for suffering native species to thrive once again.

Land use decisions are endless, critical and not easy. All decisions must be paired with the moral responsibility of stewardship for the whole. Every land use choice directly or indirectly affects every single person on this planet. Maintaining an open mind, becoming educated, then being vocal & vigilant about what you choose to support is crucial to encourage and further entrench these values in our culture as well as supporting your decisions with your dollar. In order to make real impact, we must put our money where our mouth is. Regenerative supports the native & wild for the betterment of all on both public & private lands & waters. Short-sighted, extraction-style decisions create unintended consequences(such as our current air quality issues or the fact that there are zero undammed rivers left in the US that are open to the ocean, massively affecting fish & mammal migrations as well as upper river life and overall water quality) for us and future generations. The land and water are resources for us to steward, not abuse. Regenerative isn't a formula but rather a methodology that forces us to ask better questions with outcomes that always create greater wealth in every facet.

 

Timeless history always remains relevant as the most important, underpinning values never change. Truth is truth; regardless of it's age. Wilderness has unchangedly functioned for thousands of years. The value of wilderness in my life has always been one of recentering, helping me recognize I play but a small part in the big picture, but my impact can be huge if I so choose to reinforce the truths of time and have faith that it’s design and inner workings are far beyond my own comprehension. My finite mind can’t comprehend in the moment what ultimately may be positive or negative in the long term due to the fact that I didn't create it so I must simply look at the unchanging truths of nature and have faith in it's perfect and purposeful design. This world is full of unintended consequences but at the core of a poor decision, there was most certainly a timeless truth that was ignored or abandoned for sake of more immediate gratification. This metaphor is also true in my personal life; I may not understand the exact “how” or “why” but the unchanging word of God says He works all things for good. It takes faith. I can trip myself up assuming that I know what is a “good”, and therefore “bad”, outcome or ignore a truth that may not align with what I may selfishly want. We simply must have faith in it's design, for who are we to think we know better? A painful, ugly "forest fire" in my life may be just what my soul needed to get rid of old, dead debris and clean the slate for a new, refreshed, more open-minded chapter in my life. Everything has purpose but we sometimes fight the process because we don't fully understand it... It takes faith.

 

How we steward our land and resources is a systematic result of this philosophy and worldview; We are merely stewards of what has been entrusted to us for no more than a blink in time, may we not abuse it or take it for granted for we are merely guests here, borrowing this intricately & masterfully designed world from the next generation, asking better questions to leave it better than we found it.

Wild places and their rich history are an intrinsic, tangible, transcendent scroll that ties us all together. May our stewardship be a love letter to future generations.

 

 

Live well this week,

- Sean & the Northstar Tribe

 

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