What keeps you going?

This “conservation business” is filled with ups and downs.

Like the proverbial roller coaster, you feel the thrill of reaching the top of the mountain, only to have your stomach churning as you race down into the valley, seemingly out of control.

So you really need to find something – some days anything – to keep you coming back for more.

As I sat leaning against a tree on the dreary chilly day that was the Pennsylvania deer season opener, I had a lot of time to think – about conservation, about the stewardship with which we have been entrusted when it comes to the land and water, about the Oreos sitting less than three feet away from me in my pack.

I haven’t been at this for nearly as long as many of my colleagues here at TU, but I suspect that we’ve all had those days, when the answers weren’t what we wanted to hear, or the people on the other side of the desk just “weren’t getting it.” (Or worse yet, they “got it” and just didn’t care). The difference, however, is that we likely have something that keeps us going – some push or pull from a special place that keeps us climbing that mountain, if only to be hurtled off the other side.

As I sat motionless for much of the day that Monday, I could see on the far hill a couple of Marcellus shale gas wells. Already on-line, the massive rigs and thousands of trucks hauling millions of gallons of water gone, they just sat there, herds of Holstiens milling around the neighboring farms.

That, as odd as it may seem, is what keeps me going.

It’s knowing that the resource is down there, perhaps more than a mile. It’s knowing that there is an industry working to extract those resources. And it’s knowing that those cows – and the white-tailed deer and wild turkeys and native trout – still need a place to live.

There have been those harrowing rides down into the valley, when those on both sides of the emotionally-charged shale gas debate have closed their eyes and ears to a reasonable approach to responsible energy development.

But there have also been days when that responsible and reasonable message is met with nods of agreement and willingness to work in that direction.

That, too, will keep me (and I suspect many of my TU colleagues) going.

And probably more than a few of those Oreos.


Paula Piatt is Trout Unlimited's eastern sportsmen organizer, working in the Marcellus and Utica shale gas regions of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.


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