Public Lands and Congress
BY Jen Ripple
As Americans, we consider ourselves a cultured people and rightfully place high value on the arts. The arts allow us to speak a common language regardless of social, economical or racial barriers. Nowhere is this more evident than in the great city of Nashville. As the Editor-in-Chief of an international fly fishing magazine and an avid angler, I view our national monuments, parks and public lands as a form of art. Like a beautiful painting, the vast open spaces of the Land Between the Lakes is a sight to behold. The morning songbirds there perform with such splendor that even Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik could be considered inadequate. This 178,000 acres of public land, which sees over 1.6 million visitors, and brings almost $5 million in revenue to this rural area is open for all to enjoy.
As an angler, conservation of public land like the LBL is as important to me as country music is to Nashville. Currently, the Antiquities Act and our public lands are facing many challenges, from those who want to sell public lands to talk of dramatically cutting budgets to manage these lands. It is my belief that the Antiquities Act is one of the most powerful tools we have for conservation. Like any tool, it must be used appropriately, but it is important to keep this tool available for those times and places it is needed.
Imagine, if you will, Nashville without the music, and you can imagine what the outdoor industry, an industry which accounts for $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million jobs would be without public lands, national parks and monuments. Edgar Degas said it best when he said “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”