I hope this finds you well and healthy and weathering the challenges the coronavirus – physical, economic and spiritual – has brought into all our lives.
Here at BHA, we’re feeling it, too. As the coronavirus/COVID-19 spreads, we are taking steps to keep our family safe – including our members, volunteers, staff and local communities. We’re following medical guidelines and canceling all chapter events until at least mid-May. We will send updates as the situation evolves, especially as it relates to Rendezvous, June 4-6.
We have closed our Missoula headquarters office and asked our staff to work remotely. Our team is continuing to work hard to conserve our public lands, waters and wildlife. While some of our priority issues – including advancing federal legislation like the Great American Outdoors Act, Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and Boundary Waters Wilderness Protection and Pollution Prevention Act – may pause while Congress and the administration address the threat and impacts of the coronavirus, our commitment to these bills and policies is as strong as ever. So is our commitment to you, our members, and everyone who’s part of the BHA family.
For me, a big part of keeping myself safe and healthy – mentally, physically and spiritually – comes back to the Great Outdoors. Earlier this week, I took my family to some public lands just outside of Missoula. The sun was out, the air was crisp, and while there was still some snow on the ground, you could feel the onset of spring. We crumpled our local newspaper, full of virus news, and my 8-year-old son lit the fire. We roasted hot dogs and sausages over the coals and noticed the robins, chickadees and crows. Our kingdom. Our solace. It showed me once again how getting outside can help heal us – offering sustenance and a respite from the anxiety and unease in the world.
As we embrace the practice of social distancing, let’s remember to get outside in whatever ways are available to us. Here in western Montana in early spring, that means getting on the river for the skwala hatch and scouting for turkey and black bear. Whatever it means to you and whatever you can do – exercising the dog, loosening up your archery muscles, dipping your feet in some local water, or just stepping out on your porch for some sunshine and wind on your face – be sure and take time to recharge, feed your body and your brain, get some Vitamin D and find solace.
Your BHA family is ready to help, too. By next week, the spring issue of Backcountry Journal– one of our best yet – will be hitting mailboxes across North America. Our chapter Facebook groups and Instagram pages remain community gathering points, sources for news and information and inspiration. We’re also looking into ways to enrich our ability to virtually connect with online opportunities and events – more to come on this.
We’re facing a challenging time right now as a society. But I have no doubt that we will emerge stronger, smarter and more connected to the people and the land we love. Take care.
Onward and Upward!