A Dirtbag’s Reasons to Rally for Public Lands

Our public lands might need us, but we need them too.


Written by DBR Ambassador Bobbi Sawchyn, author of Fail Laugh Learn.

Serious props to Chile: Five new national parks and three more expanded!? That’s over TEN MILLION additional acres of land for dirtbaggers like us to get down and dirty. When it comes to conservation, the country seems to know what’s up.

Unfortunately these days, however, instances like Chile seem to be the exception, not the rule. In the US, the outdoor industry has been at the front lines fighting for public lands for over a year. And while we’re doing OK up here in Canada, budget limitations continue to be a challenge.

Odds are you’re on one end of the spectrum or the other: waving your public lands flag high in the air, or tired of seeing the updates, not wanting to hear anything more about them.

But let me ask you this: The places we dirtbag… Are they public? The trails we run… Are they maintained? The land upon which we set up camp… Is it protected?

In the majority of cases, in one way or another, the answer is usually yes.

Regardless of whether they are journeys of self-discovery to far reaches of the continent or weekly runs with the BFF, when I think of impactful moments and the memories that will stand the test of time, they don’t come from inside my house. They come from nearby conservation areas, from faraway national parks, or from over 890 kilometers of trail we Hamiltonians like to call the Bruce.

Bruce Trail in Short Hills Provincial Park, Ontario.

Yes, when it comes to memories, experience and personal growth, these spaces are invaluable. But in case that’s not reason enough, I’ve compiled a couple of others:

  1. Because the land can’t fight for itself.
  2. Because we don’t want greed and capitalism to win.
  3. Because it’s more than just trees and earth: its history, it’s culture, it’s ecology, it’s biology.
  4. Because where would we go to be dirtbags?
  5. Because after decades of working against the climate, the climate is now working against us. Which means it’s time to take extra care of this place.
  6. Because the animals care too, but they don’t have a voice.
  7. Because we need to set a good example for the generation to come.
  8. Because it’s terrifying to think of a downtown core in the middle of Yosemite Valley – protection now means less room for development later.
  9. Because the people who had the land designated worked hard to do so, and we owe it to them to honour that.
  10. Because, as cliche as it might be, these places are special. And they deserve to be recognized.
Indian Creek (formerly Bears Ears National Monument), Utah.

Thanks for reading. Now, let’s go spread a little love.