by Julie Mach
CMC Conservation Director
To my dearest Public Lands,
I have never felt this way about anyone, or anything, else. My love for you is as deep as your flowing rivers, as vast as your deserts, as mighty as your tallest peaks. Your varied nature, ever-changing seasons and multifaceted landscapes fill me with immense and boundless happiness.
I moved to Colorado not knowing I could fall in love with a place: a forest, a river, a canyon, a trail, a tree. A home. You enrich my spirit daily with the promise of exploration, positive change and limitless opportunities. You captivate my mind, challenge my body and satiate my soul.
Thanks to you, I find my deepest reflections and most satisfying moments. Your moods change as quickly as the thunderheads build above and your rays of sunshine turn to icy pellets of hail. You expose me to perspective-altering risks that are absent from our daily lives. You push me to the brink of my abilities and sometimes beyond. You always leave me wanting more in this torrid love affair.
I’ve met the most passionate people on public lands. You facilitate so many uses: recreating, working, observing, extracting, restoring. I know humans, including myself, can be hard on you at times. We trample your trails with boots and tires, we pollute your alpine air with exhaust and noise, we disrupt the natural rhythms of your wildlife, we contaminate your waters. These are unfortunate side-effects of our affection for you. We are still learning how refrain from loving you to death, from holding you too tightly and causing irreversible harm.
I, along with many Coloradans, love you fully and unconditionally. We want you to stay public and remain protected for generations to come. You are a gift that we must steward, maintain and restore. Just as you nourish our souls with epic vistas and thrilling recreation, we must nurture your nature with Leave No Trace principals, habitat restoration projects and sustainable trail construction.
We cannot simply take you for granted, to keep taking from you without giving in return. We entrust much to talented and humble land managers at the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Parks Service, but they can’t protect you on their own. They need help.
On this Valentine’s Day, as a lover of public lands, I pledge to make your health and well-being an even bigger priority. I will volunteer, support the agencies and organizations that protect you and ensure that lawmakers hear my voice. We are partners for life. Public lands, you complete me.
With enduring love and affection,