'I felt defensive'

  Dear HCN,

The sidebar editorial by Louise Liston, "A proud and defiant native," (HCN, 4/14/97) regarding the recent creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, was disturbing. It made me uncomfortable. It made me stop and think.

Liston characterized an environmentalist's love of the land as a "weekend love affair," quite different from her deep and abiding love of the land that comes from making a living off the land. At first, I felt defensive, but after some considerable thought and a long bike ride at the foot of the Bridger Mountains, I realized she was right. Right, at least, for many who enjoy the outdoors and our national treasures of public land as a weekend fling.

Her message is sobering. It is a moment of truth for all of us who care, or at least think we care about these wild places we live and/or play in. Is our relationship with the land merely a weekend fling? Will the land be the victim of our shallow lust? How would you honestly answer these questions?

I enjoy wild places as an intense and passionate love affair whenever I can, but I also feel a deep and abiding love for these special places I am privileged to visit in Montana and elsewhere around the West. This love becomes stronger each time I comment on a Forest Service or BLM Environmental Assessment. To do so intelligently requires study and patience. It demands an understanding of the land, and an intense interest in ecological systems and principles. It requires compassion, an ability to listen to what you see, and then to put it into words.

I am involved in environmental issues because I can't not be. Because I love the land, passionately. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but it is this heartfelt, enduring love of these wild places I can't live without that will keep me active and committed to a long-term relationship with the land and the federal agencies responsible for their proper management.

Indirectly, perhaps, I too derive my living from the land. It has certainly made me rich. So Louise Liston, thank you for your sincere thoughts about southern Utah. I hope your commentary inspired others to step back and evaluate their relationship with the land and to develop a deeper, abiding commitment to its protection. It surely did for me.

Glenn Hockett

Bozeman, Montana

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