I love the outdoors. I'm sure you do too, that is why you're here. I have so many fond memories of being out on a blue line trail listening to the birds, smelling the fresh air, watching big game, and looking at everyone's garbage.
Wait a minute, looking at everyone's garbage?
We've all been there sadly, you're out enjoying your favorite trail, fishing hole, or hunting spot, and you see garbage someone carelessly left behind. If you're anything like me, that frustrates you so badly!
This is the point where I have to admit that I am a little bit slow. I spent a good few months fishing one of my favorite blue lines, looking at the garbage, before I realized that I could and should do something about it.
One day as I was walking down the trail, I decided that I would help clean up. I figured I could plan a good day of fishing and fish all the way up the canyon. Then on my way back down, I could collect as much garbage as possible.
With a heavy duty garbage bag in my hand, I collected steering wheel covers, soda cups and cans, magazines, and a plethora of wrappers. By the time I got back to my truck, my bag was bursting. I was furious that people would trash my outdoors that badly, and glad to have done something to improve the situation.
We share our resources
The challenge that I realized in cleaning up is that we share our resources with other people. Sometimes with other anglers, sometimes with hunters, other times with campers.
With that many people out enjoying the outdoors, you're bound to find someone that doesn't feel the same way about keeping everything clean. The best thing though, is to just set the example rather than scold the guilty parties.
I don't call myself a saint for cleaning up, it was just something to help me enjoy my blue lines a bit more. But cleaning up garbage isn't the only thing that can be done to make the situation better. It was just what I noticed needed to be done where I was at.
Part of enjoying the outdoors and these hobbies is teaching others to love the same thing. When a new generation comes along, that has a true passion they'll be invested in taking care of our shared resources as well. Becoming a mentor, then, is a great way to give back.
Creating friendships that "cross borders" helps as well. When we are friendly with the other people that are out and about, using the shared resources, we don't look like elitists. When everyone gets along, everyone involved with have a greater respect for our shared resources.
Look For Opportunities
Giving back is definitely a mindset. One that can be developed.
So the next time that you are out enjoying those blue lines, look for something that you can do to help. As you develop this mindset, it will be contagious.
As more people see you packing out other peoples' garbage, they'll be a bit more interested in keeping things clean.
As more people see you mentoring, they'll be more interested in mentoring themselves.
The sacrifice of giving back, increases you appreciation and even love for fly fishing and the outdoors.
Help each of us invest in the future out our shared resources and the future of your sport.