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  • Jason J. Crighton

A Trip to Alaska = A Changed Heart

A picture may tell 1,000 words, but a picture of the Alaskan wilderness falls woefully short. I doubt there are enough words in the English language to convey the beauty and awe inspiring wonder of the Alaskan wild. If there was ever a place where I felt born again, it was there.

It was just a few short months ago that I was there for my honeymoon-an Alaskan cruise through the southeast passage. Yet, I can still smell the fresh air and see the vivid colors of the landscape every time I close my eyes. The feeling of the cool mist falling on my face is just as refreshing now as a memory as it was standing beside my new wife, taking in the beauty of Dawes Glacier.

There is something magical about the fog suspended in the air, splitting the mountains in two. The deep, deep blue of ice formed thousands of years ago is a sight that one cannot, must not, forget. The trees, filled with shades of green as though a painter brushed them just this morning, blanket the mountain sides in every direction.

Each valley floor has a golden brown shade of grass so smooth it can be mistaken for carpet. The water is so clean and free of pollution, it makes this Easterner wonder if there isn't a Brita pitcher filtering it all somewhere. There is a cool crispness to the air that reminds me of late fall days in the stand....and this is in July.

Why these words? Because the mind of this Easterner has been forever changed. To me, a PA native, I failed to fully grasp the seriousness of the public land debate. See, in PA, we have lots of public land managed by the state (PAGC). In fact, there is now over a million acres. While it may not be managed perfectly, there is still access for all outdoorsmen and women who want to use this resource.

It's different out west. Available public land comes in the form of federally managed public land. Alaska may be the purest state that pairs the use of federal land. The thought that this land could be transferred to the state, then possibly sold to private interests is terrifying. The amount of development in the east is scary...any mismanagement of the wild lands of Alaska through private interests shakes me to my soul.

Let me get really personal for the end of this post: WE MUST ACT! Hunters, conservationists, outdoor adventurers, hikers, kayakers, and anyone else that enjoys wildlife and the outdoors...we need to demand TWO things.

1) Public land must stay public without any caveats. 2) Federal agencies (BLM, National Parks Service, etc) must be fully funded to ensure the best possible use of the land.

WE MUST ACT! Contact your local legislator and tell them how much wild public land means to you. Even me, a guy from the east, will be making some calls.

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