Smoke from a massive wildfire burning miles west of my home wafted in the window. T.V. news reporters bleated the latest acreages totals of Colorado wildfires.
A dismal snow pack, which only a year ago was flushing giant cottonwoods like toothpicks down a toilet bowl, peaked weeks ago and rivers that typically had a month or more of floatable days, had come and gone in hours. Triple digit temperatures and high winds had plagued the region, making even the most hearty of anglers think twice before pulling out a drifter. Most of the wild places and spaces I’d spent prior summers flitting about weren’t even on the radar.
By most accounts, it was a morning to be, well….cranky.
But then came a spot of bright news: The Record of Decision on the Colorado Roadless Rule was finally being issued. And mundane as it sounded – nothing like some heavily bureaucratic language to really excite a crowd – it was a huge deal for the people who needed that wild country in their lives.
After seven years of work, Colorado sportsmen and women would finally have some peace of mind that the places they loved to hunt and fish – 4.2 million acres of them -would remain healthy and intact.
Sure, the rule isn’t perfect. No rule is, especially when it comes to roadless areas. As some of the best backcountry left in the west, roadless areas tend to draw strong opinions from all sides, sportsmen especially. But this rule sets a high bar for protecting native cutthroat trout and vital habitat for deer and elk. It sets aside these places as special, all while maintaining a realistic flexibility communities need. And here at TU, that’s important.
We’ve all got a lot on our plate right now in the west. Sometimes it seems like the list will never end.
But, for me at least, there’s some comfort in knowing that those wild places will still be there – that there will always be a place to shrug off some of that restlessness, tie on a fly and let the rest of the world fade away, even if it’s just for a little while.