A Legendary Outdoorsman Talks About The Fight To Protect Public Lands

Life Writer
12.05.17

Ryan Callaghan

Ryan Callaghan wants to save your public lands. He’s involved with several grassroots movements across America’s west, going up against state and federal government mandates that aim to sell off millions of acres to private enterprises. It’s a fight that originally blew up on January 24th of this year, when the new GOP held congress introduced bills that would see public lands lose federal policing and allow them to sell millions of pristine acres to lower the deficit. The Trump administration has shown again and again it’s on board with these policies. Never was this so clear as yesterday’s massive Bears Ears and Grand Staircase land grabs.

If public lands turn private, fences will go up, animal populations will greatly suffer, and access to land that we all own will be gone — likely forever. Congress and the Trump White House are also ignoring the cold, hard fact that our public lands employ 6.1 million people and muster $646 billion for our economy. There’s literally no metric to indicate that selling of land for short-term mineral extraction will ever reach those numbers.

On the eve of the Bears Ears decision, we caught up with Callaghan — a guide, outdoorsman, and activist — to talk about these very issues. His ethos is simple: We need nature and nature needs us. It’s a mantra that keeps him fighting the good fight, at a time when people working on the front lines are more important than ever.

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On average, how much time would you say you spend out in the wild?

A lot of it’s based off where we live. We’re in this very small valley with a very small community in Idaho. It’s about 7,000 feet in elevation. Real steep valley walls and basically the valleys are the only thing that is private, and everything else is public ground.

You can very, very quickly get out. Ease of access is very high. So I’m in a tent probably 50-60 days. Otherwise, I’m outside either on my mountain bike or fishing, skiing, hunting, looking for mushrooms, whatever I can do multiple days a week. So… a lot.