Take heart, friends…a new day is coming!
We may never know a summer like the one we experienced in 2016. For many of us, our memories will not be filled with sweet thoughts of soft, airbrushed summer evenings that could have been painted by John Constable—although there actually were plenty of those this year. Far from it. Speaking only for myself, when I look back on the season just past, I fear I will recall sleepless nights—my stomach clenched with anxiety about this country’s and this state’s future. Sleep troubled, not just by worries about the election, but also by the spectacle of Native people, brave enough to gather together to protect our sacred Earth and water, being subjected to harsh and horrid rhetoric, let alone threats of violence, by local folks.
Yet this is not a message of fear, but of hope. Consider this one encouraging truth—like everything else, this too shall pass. A new day is coming. Together we can summon the courage to stand up, face the new beginnings, and embrace them. New beginnings mean new opportunities for BCA members and friends to speak up, to share our resource-conservation ethic, and to try to make a difference. In terms of new beginnings, we are looking at a bunch:
- Obviously, we will have a new President, with a new Cabinet in tow. Think: new opportunities to press for Wilderness designation as a legacy issue for the new administration!
- We will have a new Governor, who undoubtedly will bring new ideas to the office. Lots of opportunities here for our members to step forward and offer our help when the new North Dakota leader shapes state policy—advocating for saner, slower, resource development when the oil comes back, as everyone agrees it will.
- We will elect new legislators, bringing new opportunities to enlighten them about Badlands and Wilderness.
- We will have a new legislative session, along with new opportunities for BCA to shape the law.
- We already have a new Supervisor for the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, Bill O’Donnell, who came to North Dakota this summer. BCA and the ND Wildlife Federation have already held two introductory meetings with him and Deputy Supervisor John Kinney. We are working on coordinating a larger meeting with them yet this fall that will include a number of our conservation partners.
We have many reasons to be hopeful and much to look forward to: BCA is embarking on an important new collaboration with stakeholders (conservation, industry, ranchers—and local, state, and federal entities) having interests in oil and gas development in the Badlands. The newly-published Covenant Consulting Group report, entitled Stakeholder Assessment of the North Dakota Badlands and Little Missouri River Valley, along with a shorter briefing paper, can be downloaded at www.NDStakeholders.org. Representative individuals from each stakeholder group have been selected and are meeting regularly with the goal of identifying next steps and focus areas. We hope their work will be completed by January 2017 and that strategy assessment may be turned into action.
So, yes. Now really is a time to take heart. As BCA members, we have many new opportunities to share our conservation values with friends and neighbors, and with national, state, and community leaders. Let’s all welcome these opportunities as we welcome each new day.
Photograph: "Badlands Scoria Road" by Carmen Waldo.