Outdoors deserves appreciation

By Clyde Davis: CNJ columnist

Winter has never, for me, been a time for squatting by the fire and wishing the cold away. Even on a morning such as this one, with temperature slightly above zero, the call to be out experiencing nature is present in the back of my mind.

Unfortunately, as is true for all of us, that call must be balanced by the necessity of going to work. If I could, I would load my grandson in the car and drive him up to Ute Lake, so he could experience the lake in winter. On his part, however, there is the necessity of going to school.

The enjoyment and preservation of the outdoors and an ecologically balanced world also come into the forefront at this time of year because Feb. 9 is the annual Ducks Unlimited Banquet.
Tickets may be obtained at Prince Plaza Cleaners; the cost is $55 per person or $65 per couple. The location is Clovis Civic Center. The auction features many items: quality outdoor art, sporting equipment, even “experiences” such as dining packages, trips, and social events. Enough about that. This column is more devoted to “what” and “why.”

Ducks Unlimited was founded by Joseph Knapp in the United States as a result of concern by himself and other like-minded influential business people about the loss of wetlands as habitat for waterfowl and the impact this would have on waterfowl hunting.

Let’s take this beyond waterfowl or any kind of hunting and fishing. Let’s realize (I hear the e-mails coming now) that hunters and fishermen are responsible for the vast percentage of financial support that protects and enhances all areas of the natural world. Let’s also realize that, in my opinion, unless one is a vegetarian, it is rather suspect to criticize good and ethical hunters. (I can’t, and nobody should, defend “slob hunters.”)

Ducks Unlimited places strong emphasis on its belief in science and research. Representatives work closely with biologists and ecologists to evaluate habitat needs and to monitor how birds respond to various environmental changes. Some of the methods used by Ducks Unlimited to conserve habitats are restoring grasslands, replanting forests, restoring watersheds, and acquiring land to deter development.

The most recent issue of the DU magazine ran a rather alarming article on the rates at which wetlends are still being lost or fouled. One might believe that, with current techniques and knowledge, this would not be so. After all, the American public should know by now, should not be so naive.

Organizations like DU, Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and their sister organizations cannot do all of this alone. For some of us, a key piece of voting for a new President will involve that individuals’s stance on conservation. Nonetheless, the people of the U.S., you and I, cannot realistically expect government to have a conscience if we do not prod, provide and prune that conscience. That is not cynicism — just reality.

Our collective voice, then, is best spoken through such organizations as those I mentioned above. All of us consider the preservation of wild areas a good idea; after all, have you ever heard of an organization called “The Greedy Money Grubbing Land Destroyers’ Foundation”? But without collective action and informed decision making, the concept has little teeth.

I hope to continue to raise my grandson in a way that helps him appreciate the outdoors. In order for that to happen, there needs to be an outdoors for him to appreciate. How about you?

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and a college instructor. He can be contacted at: