How our natural resources are utilized while developing and implementing a plan to do so for the long term, remains a challenge that a few have picked up the flat and marched forward. Too many times have I left a water bottle on the ground at a softball game or a wrapper in the campground when it wasn’t mine to be completely free of guilt. Over my years of volunteer service in cleaning up a variety of roadways, campgrounds and waterways, I’ve seen about every kind of can, car part and even a large mailbox littering the paths of Kansas and Missouri. Simply put, we can all be better stewards of the environment by contributing a small part in the conservation of the world.
In my experience those who spend more time outdoors are much more likely to volunteer at least some of their time on an annual basis in the preservation and restoration of the environment. The Kansan’s of the world are no exception to the trend, and the successes of conservation have proven to be long standing. The dust bowl is a perfect example of a lack of conservation and the effects. Fortunately, great leadership and hard work turned the situation around.
Throughout the US water quality remains an issue for many communities both large and small. In affluent suburban areas there are often unwarranted competitions to keep the most manicured lawn in the neighborhood, and while I appreciate the energy and work that goes into these efforts, I am, also, aware that the run off of fertilizer and pesticides turn many of the nearby lakes into catch and release fishing conditions. Applauding cities and suburbs for rebates on rain barrels and water gardens is a fantastic start, though I suspect more than a few of us, myself included, have been able to use them to their full effect this year. In my part of Kansas we have received an abnormal amount of rain, preventing the use of stored water from making an consequences.
As the land and waterways become less polluted there is almost always a population explosion of local fauna and wildlife. Allowing for the hunting and fishing of animals for both pleasure and sustenance. Many countries and cultures no longer understand or appreciate the American sporting nature of the hunt. Though they enjoy the vast National and State Park systems that licensed hunters and fisherman help to provide. The ability to see fawns prancing, baby goats jumping and fish splashing is not enjoyed in every worldwide community, though in the US one is not very far from such sights in any locale. Often, I have wondered why there exists such a gap between hunters and non-hunters and the next paragraph will explore those thoughts.
Within the animal kingdom exists a hierarchy of natural predators. As mice eat the crops in the field, the owl catches the mice who in turn is captured by a raccoon who succumbs to the coyote. The coyote may grown old and sickly and his remains will be ground to dust, serving as fertilizer for the field in which the mice eat. Many times our human actions of building homes and infrastructure upset the balance of nature and cause certain chains in the circle of life to become broken and out of kilter. Hunters help provide the necessary balance. While often herd animals are taken occasionally, within the confines of a highly regulated conservation system, high end predators are allowed to be taken for the benefit of the circle of life. Bear, alligator and mountain lion are some of the most controversial animals hunted, though recently women have received more intense backlash than their male counterparts. The gender balance is necessary by both men and women to maintain good relations and retain our humble beginnings and culture, as any good farmer or country boy living in suburbia could tell you.