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By Nash Black
“This land is our land,” is a phrase from a favorite song, but in truth it isn’t our land. We only hold it in trust for a brief moment in time.
When I was hunting for a topic to write about this week, a friend suggested I talk about the wildlife that surrounds those of us who live in the country and interacts with our lives.
She was talking about an experience I had of having to stop my Jeep and nudge a goat (kid), 2 rabbits, and a couple of squirrels off my driveway so I could get out to drive to town.
A friend inherited his family’s Revolutionary War land grant. The farm, of course, had been in the family for hundreds of years and he was very proud of it. He deeded it to his heir some years before his death so it would remain in the family, but kept a small acreage and the homeplace. It was kept picture perfect with carefully mowed lawns and white fences, except of an area along a creek which he let go wild to enrich both the land and as a secluded place for the wildlife to find shelter in his thicket. It was his gift back to the land he loved so much.
A pride of ownership come from managing your land well and caring for the wildlife living there. Then comes the conflict, you must also be a hunter to have an appreciation for losing two rows of prime corn or soybeans to browsing wildlife. Farmer do not care to see their hard work destroyed. It is difficult to strike a balance between agricultural use and land use protection.
Governmental employees sit in offices and issue regulations like the famous one for the installation of porta potties every 1400 feet in Montana where a ranch may cover thousands of acres.
Many years ago, I was asked by Dr. Harry Nadler, of the Kentucky Department of Forestry, to represent the small landowners of Kentucky when the Environmental Protection Agency was instituted. The bureaucrats issued rules so strict for woodland harvests you could not pick mushrooms on your own property without filing an environmental impact statement.
I had my moment of fame when I stood and told the presenter, who’d given a lecture on how to deal with bureaucrats, a millepede would have to bend over to stoop that low. Well not in those words, but this is a family newspaper. Got a standing ovation from the 250 other representatives.
Good land stewardship is a delicate balance among opposing factions, but it maybe best to leave usage decisions to those closest to the land. The Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Commonwealth of Kentucky does have a program to help those who have 25 acres to establish wildlife sanctuaries. I have 23.7 acres so I must do it on my own.