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Dedicated to conservation and multiple use of public lands for recreation opportunities.

Edited by: John Stewart

Backcountry Recreation Provides Essential Therapy

By BlueRibbon Coalition Public Lands Director Adena Cook

Recent catastrophes are weighing heavily on everyone's mind. The September 11 attacks changed our comfortable world forever, in ways we only now are beginning to understand. The official immediate reaction that shut down the country's air travel was necessary for security, and the follow-up that caused many to cancel travel was understandable. The economic fallout was horrendous.

It's very stressful to find our bearings as our world has changed forever. Yet we have a duty to carry on, for ourselves as well as for our country. On September 25, I flew from Idaho Falls to Minneapolis. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the flight was routine and proceeded very comfortably, although it was strange to see the Minneapolis terminal nearly deserted when I arrived at 8:30 PM. That situation changed dramatically when I departed for home a few days later; a 40-minute line crawled through the gate screening. I understand that now these kinks in the system are smoothing out.

We're carrying on with a heightened sense of patriotism. I am very encouraged to see flags flying everywhere. I am proud to see all the 'United We Stand' and 'In God We Trust' signs on commercial billboards throughout the country. We search for ways to contribute materially. Many are rediscovering the core values that I hold dear.

It is essential, not frivolous, to take time out during these troubled times to enjoy our favorite kind of backcountry recreation. We need to spend a few hours watching the landscape unfold before us as we travel through. We need to escape into the challenge of twists, turns, hills, rocks, and ledges. We need to smell the dry weeds and falling leaves of the season (gesundheit!). We need to fall asleep at night exhausted by physical exertion, our mind overwhelmed by the sensations of the outdoors.

We can return to the cares of the day renewed, re-created. I am pretty lucky that my husband, Jeff, insists that we get out on some trail somewhere on a weekly basis. If I protest that we must stay home and attend to chores, he can get pretty cranky. Chores can wait, but renewal of the spirit cannot. When I come back, I am so much more relaxed; stresses have bounced off with each rock in the trail. I am so much more productive as I resume life's tasks. As our burdens become greater, so is our need to take this time out.

One of our basic freedoms that we most insistently defend is the 'freedom to recreate'. We can't be restored or re-created if we don't have access and we don't have choices. You are aware that radical groups work very hard and spend millions of dollars to deny us this access and choice. They proselytize their recreation values and demonize ours. They use every means, legal, political, and media to force their values on everyone, denying us the freedom to choose.

BlueRibbon's mission to promote recreation access and choice becomes even more important during these times of trouble and trial. We need your support now more than ever. Additionally, your local club is the first line of defense in protecting your recreation close to home. Both BlueRibbon and your local club really do need help in protecting 'freedom to recreate' - your recreation access and choice.

You also need to take a few hours and get out in the outdoors. Pursue your favorite activity and take your family with you. The challenges of the day will not seem so large when you return. You can face our changed world renewed and re-created.


Adena Cook serves as Public Lands Director for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national non-profit recreation group that champions responsible multiple-use access to public lands. It represents over 1000 businesses and organizations with over 600,000 members.

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