Public Lands

In the fall of 2015, a friend and I and set out to write and photograph a couple Oregon fishing legends for a regional fly-fishing magazine. We piled into his truck late one night, with a bag full of greasy burgers, and drove through the dark towards the North Umpqua river in Southern Oregon. We didn’t have a super concrete plan, just get there and see what we could find. I’d never seen the North Umpqua, but knew enough to know it was a special sort of place. A place with history, character and that certain something that draws the type of folks who end up dedicating their lives to preserving what they’ve found.

Frank Moore is nothing short of a legend. He’s 94 years old and still casting a fly line, for starters. He’s a life-long fisherman, conservationist and Oregonian. He’s a WWII veteran whose story was made into a really wonderful documentary in 2014, called Mending the Line. He’s a husband, father and friend. He and his wife Jeannie owned and operated Steamboat Inn, a magical little fishing lodge and restaurant right on the river for decades. And now, his is the name currently on a bill currently being put before the Senate, a bill that would set aside 100,000 acres in Douglas County as a Wild Steelhead Sanctuary.

Somehow, I got lucky enough to spend a warm October afternoon in his home, listening to his wild stories of adventure, taking his photo and swapping child-raising ideas with his wife Jean. Here’s the photo we used for the story, snapped in front of their home, which at this point is basically a museum of fly-fishing relics and 75 years worth of equipment.

As we drove away, a growing babe and a small-town sandwich in my belly, I noticed a restlessness in what little room there was left in my gut. We had spent the afternoon interviewing this amazing couple, 180 years on this earth between them. They had found their passions, made their living, raised their family and fought to bring awareness and protection to the corner of the world they loved the most. They were full of stories and experiences, advice and wisdom and lots of laughs about some of their favorite missteps. It encouraged me to be sure, but at the same time made me feel pretty small.

Getting outside, hiking, fishing and exploring the natural world is a sort of therapy for me. It calms my spirit. It gives me perspective. Helps me sort out my thoughts and make sense of things that don’t seem to make sense in my everyday landscape. It’s vital to maintaining my sanity and helping me find my place in this world. So what am I doing in my life to save these places that have saved me? How am I going to do to preserve and protect the corner of the world I love the most for my kids and grandkids? How am I going to be a positive force for change in the things I care about the most?

I was reminded of all of this when I stumbled upon this video on Orvis‘ Facebook page the other day and I thought I’d share it here. I hope it inspires you to think through the same things. I’m not one to express a whole lot of political options here, or anywhere else for that matter, but the preservation of and access to our nation’s parks, preserves and public lands are really important to me, and things that may become significant issues in the new administration. For more information on what you can do to help or to get involved with public land preservation, visit publiclandscouncil.org.

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