Burning Buckets

I am scheduled to go fishing in the Amazon next week.

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As you may have seen on the news, large swaths of the Amazon are on fire.

Of course, that’s kind of like saying “the United States is on fire.” You wouldn’t cancel a trip to Florida just because the Bronx was burning, would you? The Amazon is a big place, and my understanding is that the nearest fires are still several hundred miles from where I’m going.

Still, it makes me a bit nervous. Not necessarily the firsthand danger, but rather the fact that one of the world’s wildest, coolest and most important places could be ruined.

A month ago I was in Alaska, fishing the Bristol Bay region, as the Environmental Protection Agency lifted prior protections which would’ve prevented building a Pebble Mine facility that many expect to threaten or ruin one of the world’s most important salmon runs. Another wonder of the world, possibly gone.

The big bosses don’t like me to get political in this space, and besides, you’re going to embrace whatever reality fits your needs. I understand that many times these issues are not as clear-cut as advocates on either side would have us believe. Furthermore, even if you care about these sorts of issues, I know that it’s tough to mobilize to fight the problems when we all have troubles in our own backyard.

Nevertheless, as a fisherman, I’m going to make an appeal to you: If you’re like me, you have a bucket list of wild places left to visit. If you’re at all ambitious, that list is probably longer than you’re likely to achieve in this lifetime. That’s part of the fun of making the list. If you checked ‘em all off, what would you have to live for? So choose ONE that seems just out of reach and make a concerted effort to get there. It doesn’t have to be the Seychelles or Uganda or the Great Barrier Reef. It could be the best lake in your state, or a National Park in your region.

Go now. Don’t assume it will be there tomorrow.

In fact, I’m convinced that if you go now, there’s a greater chance that it will be there tomorrow, because if the place turns out to be as special as you expect it to be, you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that it’s still there for another visit.

Nothing motivates us to act more than realizing how much we have to lose.