It’s your summer home, too

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My Summer Home
By TIMOTHY EGAN
From The New York Times Opinionator blog
September 1, 2010

We slept on hard ground in the high, wind-raked expanse of Wyoming’s brown grasslands, and then thrilled at the very sight of the first 14,000-foot mountains to appear in Colorado. Here was Rocky Mountain National Park, a popout card come to life, and Garden of the Gods, a rare act of apt cartographic imagination.

It was ours, Tim and I came to understand, all of it. We owned it — lake, mountain and forest, meadow, desert and shore. Public land. We could put up our tents and be lords of a manor that no monarch could match. We could hike in whatever direction our whims took us, without fear of barbed wire or stares backed by shotguns. We could raft into frothy little streams, light out for even bigger country, guided only by gravity.

The immensity often gets lost in the superlatives stirred up by the most outrageously scenic sites. But in the aggregate, this is what every citizen owns: 530 million acres, of which 193 million are run by the Forest Service, 253 million by the Bureau of Land Management and 84 million by the National Park Service. The public land endowment is more than three times the size of France. [Read the whole article]