Take care of your state lands

I hate to lecture, but I feel I have to. Some people aren’t treating state lands the way they should, and if they keep doing what they’re doing, they’re going to screw it up for all of us.

There’s a section of state land near my house where I like to go to feel like I’m away from all the pressures of civilization for a while. It’s not far from town, and it’s close to a highway, so it gets a lot of traffic from other people, too.

The bulk of the people who go out there treat it right. They close the gate when they go in, and they stay on the established roads. If they hunt or shoot, they do so responsibly.

But then there are the less ethical people who don’t treat it right. Last week, I went out there to see if I could scare up a cottontail or two, and the gate had been cut by somebody who is too lazy to get out and open and close it each time they go in or out.

About a year ago, I found a giant mound of tree limbs and trash piled in one of the section’s back corners. I filled my three-quarter-ton pickup’s bed with all that garbage and hauled it off to the yard waste recycling center. I wound up throwing the inorganic junk in my own garbage can.

Once in a while, I’ll wander across a spot where somebody’s set up to do some target practice. I know that’s what they were doing, because there’s a big pile of brass just laying there on the ground.

All this stuff really ticks me off. Not just because it puts a damper on my enjoyment of the day out there in my little corner of the wild, where I go if I don’t have a lot of time to get away from it all. But because if the people who are doing this stuff keep it up, the state’ll close down the access we have to it.

In some ways, maybe that’s a good thing. If they close it to vehicles, maybe there won’t be any more tracks cruising out through the grass. Maybe the lazy people won’t leave their brass lying on the ground, because they won’t want to walk out there to shoot. They’ll just stay away from this state section and go litter up another one.

But anytime we lose access to a public area, it hurts us all. The remaining public areas get a little more crowded, and it gets harder to find a place to play.

Please, follow the rules on public land, whether it’s state or federal.