A week ago I went off on my usual negative, cynical bent for “Earth Day”, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2012/04/earth-day-2012-version/ . Part of the reason I have that bad attitude is because of incidents like this, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/07/people-bigger-pigs-pigs-themselves/ . Thankfully, there are some folks out there that remind me that there are a darned lot of great people that live in this state! I spent some time with some of them this past Sunday, on “Earth Day”, and I want to tell you about it.
If you do not know by now, you should be aware of the relatively new Open Fields/Open Waters program through the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/hunting/programs/openaccess/ . This program is opening up private lands to public hunting and fishing opportunities, and as a hunter and angler I am thrilled about it! In the blog post I linked above, the one about people being bigger pigs than pigs themselves, I was lamenting that vandalism had been done to a farm pond property enrolled in the Open Waters program. Folks are kind enough to open a resource to the public for fishing and some stinkin’ waterheads go in there and tear the place up. That makes my blood boil. It is no wonder so many private landowners are hesitant to allow hunting, fishing and trapping on their property.
If you read clear to the end of my “Earth Day 2012 version” blog post a week ago, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2012/04/earth-day-2012-version/ , I suggested you read an article that “radically” made the point that hunters, anglers and trappers were and continue to be the original conservationists. You want more proof? Following the vandalism to this particular property enrolled in our Open Waters program, a bunch of anglers stepped up, volunteered time and money, and made it right! Last Sunday, “Earth Day”, was the culmination of their efforts. Take a look at my previous blog post, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/07/people-bigger-pigs-pigs-themselves/ to see what the area looked like after the vandalism. I want you to compare it to what it looks like now, so you know what efforts a bunch of anglers put in to make things right!
The owners of this property had even given it a name, “Owldorado”. They are proud of it, as they should be! They even put up a sign, and of course the scum-of-the-earth vandals destroyed that too.
Here I need to digress and tell you a few more details about this story. When I “cried” about the vandalism, a bunch of members of the Nebraska Fish & Game Association, http://www.nefga.org/forum/forum.php , and others spread the word and stepped up. Some of those folks even went “above and beyond” and made a new sign. Metal Works Inc. of Lincoln made and donated the new sign, http://www.metalworksinc.net/ .
And what a sign!!!! It got installed last Sunday!
Now a couple more pictures and some “thank yous”:
First of all the Wyatt family owns the place and have enrolled it in the Open Waters Program. Here they are posing with the new sign:
I want to say “THANK YOU” to the Wyatts for sharing their resource with the rest of us. They have a special place. Thank you for not putting up a 10-foot high, electrified, barbed wire fence around the whole property and kicking everyone off after the vandalism occurred! The folks who enroll their lands in the Open Fields/Open Waters program are not doing it for the money. Sure, they get some compensation, but I can tell you after standing around talking to the Wyatts for a little bit that they are great folks, quintessential Nebraskans, and they just want to share their special resource with others. Thank you!
Lastly, here is the gang that showed up last Sunday, “Earth Day”, to complete the sign installation:
Glen, Ryan, Harold and Steve, THANK YOU! I know that you guys are not the only ones who have been to “Owldorado” to pick up and fix up the place; I know there are many who have volunteered their time, money and materials. That is outstanding and again, THANK YOU! I am proud to know you! All of you deserve to catch the fish of a lifetime this season!
Lastly, “Owldorado” is still enrolled in the Open Waters Program and is open for fishing:
I would tell you that if you go, to treat it like it was your own, but I do not think that is good enough. If you go, treat like you are a guest! Treat it like someone has lent you something precious and special! As a matter of fact, that is exactly what has been done. Follow the rules, walk in, do not even think of leaving a scrap of paper or trash. If you harvest some fish, maybe take a few medium-size panfish for a meal of fresh fish, but release all the big panfish and all the bass. And, do one other thing–keep an eye on the place. To my knowledge, the scum that vandalized the property have never been caught; if you know something about that I am betting the local Sheriff’s Department would be interested in that information! It is great that some anglers took it upon themselves to fix what was abused and broken, but ultimately my attitude about this kind of thing would be lots better if those responsible were caught and punished and this kind of thing stopped, stopped everywhere, forever.