I’ve been drifting some this late summer and fall, roaming the mountains of Alabama where I grew up. When I was in high school, ages ago, I used to dig and sell ginseng for pocket money in the early fall, carefully replanting the ripe red berries, never taking all the plants from any one place. I still remember walking through the door of the root and fur dealer, and that powerful smell of the roots, ginger and black mountain earth, and the strange twisty roots themselves, laid out on tables, and filling burlap bags that hung from hooks on the walls.
This past June, I accompanied a group called Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development to Washington, D.C, to talk with a few members of Congress and to officials from the Department of the Interior about what we’ve all witnessed in what is now a years-long public lands energy extraction boom. It was a diverse bunch of people, from Arkansas bird dog trainer and US Army Special Forces veteran Tim Kizer to Luke Shafer, a 250 pound shaven-headed bruiser from Meeker, Colorado, to the soft-spoken New Mexican, Toner Mitchell, who has guided fly fishermen for 37 years and owns the Reel Life Fly Shop in Santa Fe.