Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

The American Wilderness Act

16th June 2014   ·   0 Comments

I grew up in the St. Bernard Housing Development of New Orleans, about as far as one can get from Yellowstone National Park. But as a young man while still in college, I did an internship in that great wilderness.

It was like a long summer camp but it was also a time of great freedom for me. While every native Louisianian grows up hunting and fishing, there is no discounting great mountaintop experiences, wide-open spaces and fly fishing.

And so, there I was, a great African American cowboy, communing with buffalo, grizzly, moose and antelope.

Eventually, the real world beckoned and I took on the responsibilities of adulthood. I married and had children and earned an MBA. I entered public service and am now celebrating my 36 years in government, and re-election as New Orleans Assessor.

I still find I can recreate the expansive solitude of those Yellowstone days with a fishing pole or on a hunt. To be left to your own wiles to explore the world around you is one of the most pure, fundamental and freeing experiences one can cherish. It soothes one’s soul to know that in an atmosphere of continuously accelerating change, there is one place to go and simply “be.” This place is, of course, the American Wilderness, and in Louisiana, the protected places are Breton, Lacissine and Katsatchie.

This summer we celebrate 50 years of the American Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, so that every Louisiana child, of whatever means, can grow up to be a cowboy. To those who explore, I say “Happy Trails.”

– Erroll Williams
– Steve Murchie
Gulf Restoration Network

This article originally published in the June 16, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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