Conservationists, Let’s Not Get Too Big for Our Britches

“I’ve pretty much given up on old white guys solving problems” – Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia.


 “I’ve pretty much given up on old white guys solving problems” – Old White Man Sitting on a Panel Talking About Solving Problems

About five minutes before that was said in Boise at the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous on Saturday, Tom McGraw (BHA Board Member), eloquently spoke about how he didn’t care about your other politics, or about your religion or anything else, he was committed to conservation and if you are too, then he’s ready and willing to work with you.  Then Chouinard went on a rant about old white men, compared President Trump to Hitler and talked about how conservatism ruins everything.  

That’s too bad.

In spite of me not having a favorable opinion of Patagucci going in, I kept an open mind listening to the man speak and for 45 minutes, I almost liked him.  He is a likable guy and he has done a lot of good stuff in his life.  However, he’s also a part of the problem.  A man who flies all over the world in an airplane talking about shutting down the petroleum industry “tomorrow”.  Hellfire and brimstone is good for putting asses in pews and therefore cash in the collection plate, but it doesn’t solve problems.

It’s easy for us to get wound up about things we care about, but we should be cautious about following leaders blindly.  Leaders are human and therefore make mistakes.  Especially in issues of conservation, these things are incredibly nuanced.  As sportsmen, we drive gas guzzling trucks to haul elk out of the woods or carry our canoes, but yet we still fight the federal government on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  We incessantly talk about “getting back to nature” while at the same time not being able to get our face out of our smart phones, and using whatever technology is available to us to increase our odds at catching a fish or killing big game.  

Do not fret, we are only human.  However, in order to make progress we must accept our contradictions, not ignore or justify our own faults while making adversaries out of possible allies in order to lay the blame at someone else’s feet.  Somewhere in our contradictions is a conversation that will lead to a way forward. The world is not black and white and neither is conservation.  Conservation is for liberals, conservatives, libertarians, centrists and others. Conservation is for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus and Pagans. Conservation is a big umbrella that can fit all of us, so don’t throw stones from inside your glass house.  

And we all live in glass houses.