A while back on my psychology news feed, I read an article about demoralization, as opposed to depression - The demoralized mind.
Everywhere, we are surrounded by an assault on our public trust, our public lands and access, our wildlife, our natural resources and so much more.
Increasingly, I hear people make comments about being depressed because of the constant assaults, the constant state of hypervigilance, being stretched too thin, so many battles, too many battles, only so much of a person to go around...
I understand, my daily conservation news feed, spanning the US, has become like the stereotypical, folkloric raven depicted as a harbinger of doom, only it is not one raven, but a murder of them. Not only are the warning articles increasing, but we are now seeing studies on the effects these non-stop assaults are producing, using phrases like "rising depression". After overhearing a conversation in a rural grocery store, near where I was documenting last week, I was reminded of the demoralization article. Though its original application was about our culture of consumerism, it is relevant to our current conservation battles.
"Contributing to the confusion is the equally insidious epidemic of demoralization that also afflicts modern culture. Since it shares some symptoms with depression, demoralization tends to be mislabeled and treated as if it were depression... Rather than a depressive disorder, demoralization is a type of existential disorder... The world loses its credibility, and former beliefs and convictions dissolve into doubt, uncertainty and loss of direction. Frustration, anger and bitterness are usual accompaniments, as well as an underlying sense of being part of a lost cause or losing battle... "
The article shared a massive study, reviewing over 5,600 cases of diagnosed depression and found that only 38 per cent of them met the criteria for depression, stating, "a high percentage of ‘depression’ cases are actually demoralization, a condition unresponsive to drugs."
"We are long overdue a cultural revolution that would force a radical revamp of the political process, economics, work, family and environmental policy. It is true that a society of demoralized people is unlikely to revolt even though it sits on a massive powder keg of pent-up frustration. But credibility counteracts demoralization, and this frustration can be released with immense energy when a credible cause, or credible leadership, is added to the equation."
Edward R. Murrow, a journalist and broadcaster wrote, "To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." I would add, we need to demand this of our government, our agencies, our media; and just as important, involving conservation, the conservation activists. Without that credibility, we will not be able to counteract the growing demoralization in conservation activism.
Crazy Mountain Notes
A few years ago I began physically documenting access around the Crazy Mountains, which was seriously ramped up this last year. After having shown one of the Park County Road department officials my pictures from the first west side Crazy Mountains trip I made with Brad Wilson (Friends of the Crazy Mountains), one "No Access sign stood out to me. I asked if my understanding of the law was correct, that it was illegal to put signage on county or state signs? He stated yes.
I just got an update from Park County Roads that they did deal with this illegal sign, removing it. A landowner had illegally attached their privately made sign to a Park County sign post, deceptively trying to make it look official. Their "No National Forest Access" sign has now been removed.
For those that might be curious...
Montana Code Annotated 61-8-210. Display of unauthorized signs, signals, or markings. (1) A person may not place, maintain, or display upon or in view of a highway any unauthorized sign, signal, marking, or device that purports to be or is an imitation of or resembles an official traffic control device, that attempts to direct the movement of traffic, or that hides from view or interferes with the effectiveness of any official traffic control device or flag person.
(2) A person may not place or maintain and a public authority may not permit commercial advertising on an official traffic control device on a highway, except for business signs included as a part of official motorist service panels or roadside area information panels approved by the department of transportation.
(3) This section does not prohibit the erection of signs upon private property adjacent to highways that give useful directional information and that are of a type that cannot be mistaken for official signs.
Violation Of Chapter -- Penalty
61-8-711. (1) It is a misdemeanor for a person to violate any of the provisions of this chapter unless the violation is declared to be a felony.
(2) Each person convicted of a misdemeanor for a violation of any of the provisions of this chapter for which another penalty is not provided shall for a first conviction be punished by a fine of not less than $10 or more than $100. For a second conviction within 1 year after the first conviction, the person shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200. Upon a third or subsequent conviction within 1 year after the first conviction, the person shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50 or more than $500.
Brad Wilson, who has assisted in some of my documentation amassing, just put out an oped on the Crazies work.
Protect access rights in the Crazy Mountains
"Absent from the Losing Ground 'Portfolio' report is any mention of historic roads and trails in the Crazy Mountains, which is at the heart of these access conflicts. While the report notes that landowners and recreationists are looking for ways to improve access in the range, the first step to finding a solution is for the U.S. Forest Service to follow its direction and policy and take action necessary to protect these existing access rights to National Forest Service land."
Documenting, especially the legalities and facts, access we already have, is foundational towards protecting any access.
On that note, I have had to add the following disclaimer to my site, to protect this work from poaching, by others that have used it for purposes contrary to the public trust.
"Copyright © 2017 Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat (EMWH) reserves the rights for images, other graphics, videos (visual media), excluding maps, at this site. You may not reproduce any of the visual media content on this website, without the permission from EMWH. Visitors are strictly prohibited from using EMWH's Website and its Content for fraudulent, illegal, threatening, libelous or defamatory purposes, or any communications and/or materials that could give rise to civil or criminal liability under law."
A day after my last newsletter Chris Solomon's Crazy Mountain article came out. Having reached out to Chris about this issue, which applies across the U.S., and providing documentation, I was very relieved by his well written article - he got it, and the bigger application to our public lands access threat - the land grab.
The Fight for Public Land in Montana's Crazy Mountains by Chris Solomon
Don Thomas wrote a guest opinion - Public lands for how long?
Thomas, like me, didn't just read Sen. Steve Daines' press release on his bill to eliminate our Wilderness Study areas. He noticed the groups that Daines used to try and make it look like "sportsmen" and other groups advocated his bill. And if you don't read the fine print and know the history of some of these groups, you would have missed this political ploy altogether.
"Now Daines has introduced the ominously titled Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act. Why “ominously”? Because Washington politicians have developed a double-speak that allows them to sugarcoat legislation in ways that imply the opposite of its intention. This bill won’t protect anything...
It is always instructive to note who has signed on in support of bills like this. What about the endorsement from Big Game Forever (BGF)? Since numerous studies show that undisturbed security habitat is crucial for elk — our most popular big game animal — this group’s name sounds suspiciously like another example of double-speak, and it is."
Remember my reported request of my hunting license history by the D.C. guy that did opposition research for the Republican National Convention and America Rising? Well here it is on a large scale against our federal employees.
E.P.A. Employees Spoke Out. Then Came Scrutiny of Their Email
"Three different agency employees, in different jobs, from three different cities, but each encountered a similar outcome: Federal records show that within a matter of days, requests were submitted for copies of emails written by them that mentioned either Mr. Pruitt or President Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency.
The requests came from a Virginia-based lawyer working with America Rising, a Republican campaign research group that specializes in helping party candidates and conservative groups find damaging information on political rivals, and which, in this case, was looking for information that could undermine employees who had criticized the E.P.A."
To close with some very good news, here is Public Land/Water Access Association's 2017 Year In Review.
Thank you to contributors & subscribers for your support; without it, EMWH would not be able to pursue this work.
Click to be a Contributor or Subscriber to Enhancing Montana's Wildlife & Habitat