Middle River Dispatches is a gumbo of posts about fly-fishing, conservation, politics and days afield.

Remembering Jim Range

The following is a tribute I wrote for the News Virginian in 2009. I don’t think I can do any better today and still have tears in my eyes. May his wisdom live on in all of us.

There are some columns one would prefer never to write. This is one of them.

Please indulge me as I reflect on two people who are no longer with us. Not to mourn their loss so much as to celebrate their lives.

Jim Range and Jean Ince (courtesy of John Ince)

On Tuesday morning one of my very closest friends lost his battle with cancer.
He was like a brother to me. The best man in my wedding, a hunting and fishing partner of many years and the voice on the other end of the phone keeping me strong when trouble came. And oh, the whiskey we drank.

Many of you have never heard of James D. Range. But all of you have been touched by his work. He was a conservation hero. Embodying a conservation ethic on the scale of Roosevelt, Leopold, Muir and Pinchot.

One of my most cherished memories, from many years ago, is standing with him in my dining room one night. We got choked up looking out at the fields and woods where I lived.

He told me that not a lot of folks were willing to protect the things he, I and many of you love so much like fish, wildlife and the wild things of this earth. He said, “Tommy we have to protect the wild things. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

Tears streamed down our faces. Big men do cry.

Range was a modern architect of natural resource conservation. A skilled bipartisan policy and political genius with an extraordinary network of friends and contacts.

Range had wonderful oratorical gifts, a way of always speaking from his heart, sometimes in language not fit for a family newspaper. You may not have liked what he said but you surely knew what he thought.

He was the personification of “if they don’t see the light, we can surely make them feel the heat.”

Range’s fingerprints are all over the nation’s conservation laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. His championing of conservation tax incentives earned him a profile in Time magazine.

He ably chaired the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Board of Directors pouring his enormous energy into its resurrection.

He served with distinction and candor on the Board’s of Trout Unlimited, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, Ducks Unlimited, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Valles Caldera Trust and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Range was an original board member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helping to chart the outstanding course it is on today. He also held presidential appointments to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council.

In 2003, Range received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given to an individual at the national level by the Department.

He was also awarded the 2003 Outdoor Life Magazine Conservationist of the Year Award and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sportfishing Association.

Range’s greatest love was the outdoors. He fished and hunted all over the world. I suspect he was happiest however, at his place on the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.

Flyway Ranch was his sanctuary. A sanctuary, which, in typical Range fashion, he shared with friends and colleagues so they too could enjoy a respite from challenges both personal and professional.

Beside his multitude of friends and admirers, Range is survived by his father, Dr. James Range of Johnson City, Tenn., brothers John Neel, Harry and Peter, twin daughters Allison and Kimberly, and loyal bird dogs Plague, Tench and Sky.

Range may be gone but we will be telling stories about him for the rest of our lives.

The Valley lost another friend recently as well. She was one of Range’s favorite people and the mother of his girlfriend Anni.

Jean Marion Gregory Ince, died on Jan. 12 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. She and her husband Eugene St. Clair Ince, Jr. and her beloved golden retriever “Meg” were residents of Madison.

Like Range, Jean Ince was a giver. She and Meg, a certified therapy dog, worked with patients at the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville and at the Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville.

Anni told me her mom, like Range, loved the outdoors and animals, particularly horses and dogs. She said that love was passed on to her children and grandchildren as well.

Jean and Bud enjoyed a special relationship. They wrote about it in the December 1978 issue of GOURMET Magazine. An Evening at the Waldorf chronicles the evening of their engagement.

It is a wonderfully engaging story of a young couple, a special hotel, and a time when doing for others was a common practice.

I hope you will take a moment to read it. It is a gift that will make any day a better one.

You can find a copy of An Evening at the Waldorf at http://www.usna.org/family/waldorf.html.

Jim Range and Jean Ince have made our world a better place. Their friends and families miss them but their memories will warm our hearts forever.

A toast to Jim Range

Two years passes way too quickly…

The following is a tribute I wrote for the News Virginian two years ago:

There are some columns one would prefer never to write. This is one of them.

Please indulge me as I reflect on two people who are no longer with us. Not to mourn their loss so much as to celebrate their lives.

Jim Range and Jean Ince (courtesy of John Ince)

On Tuesday morning one of my very closest friends lost his battle with cancer.
He was like a brother to me. The best man in my wedding, a hunting and fishing partner of many years and the voice on the other end of the phone keeping me strong when trouble came. And oh, the whiskey we drank.

Many of you have never heard of James D. Range. But all of you have been touched by his work. He was a conservation hero. Embodying a conservation ethic on the scale of Roosevelt, Leopold, Muir and Pinchot.

One of my most cherished memories, from many years ago, is standing with him in my dining room one night. We got choked up looking out at the fields and woods where I lived.

He told me that not a lot of folks were willing to protect the things he, I and many of you love so much like fish, wildlife and the wild things of this earth. He said, “Tommy we have to protect the wild things. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”

Tears streamed down our faces. Big men do cry.

Range was a modern architect of natural resource conservation. A skilled bipartisan policy and political genius with an extraordinary network of friends and contacts.

Range had wonderful oratorical gifts, a way of always speaking from his heart, sometimes in language not fit for a family newspaper. You may not have liked what he said but you surely knew what he thought.

He was the personification of “if they don’t see the light, we can surely make them feel the heat.”

Range’s fingerprints are all over the nation’s conservation laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. His championing of conservation tax incentives earned him a profile in Time magazine.

He ably chaired the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Board of Directors pouring his enormous energy into its resurrection.

He served with distinction and candor on the Board’s of Trout Unlimited, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, Ducks Unlimited, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Valles Caldera Trust and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

Range was an original board member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helping to chart the outstanding course it is on today. He also held presidential appointments to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council.

In 2003, Range received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given to an individual at the national level by the Department.

He was also awarded the 2003 Outdoor Life Magazine Conservationist of the Year Award and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sportfishing Association.

Range’s greatest love was the outdoors. He fished and hunted all over the world. I suspect he was happiest however, at his place on the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.

Flyway Ranch was his sanctuary. A sanctuary, which, in typical Range fashion, he shared with friends and colleagues so they too could enjoy a respite from challenges both personal and professional.

Beside his multitude of friends and admirers, Range is survived by his father, Dr. James Range of Johnson City, Tenn., brothers John Neel, Harry and Peter, twin daughters Allison and Kimberly, and loyal bird dogs Plague, Tench and Sky.

Range may be gone but we will be telling stories about him for the rest of our lives.

The Valley lost another friend recently as well. She was one of Range’s favorite people and the mother of his girlfriend Anni.

Jean Marion Gregory Ince, died on Jan. 12 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. She and her husband Eugene St. Clair Ince, Jr. and her beloved golden retriever “Meg” were residents of Madison.

Like Range, Jean Ince was a giver. She and Meg, a certified therapy dog, worked with patients at the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville and at the Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville.

Anni told me her mom, like Range, loved the outdoors and animals, particularly horses and dogs. She said that love was passed on to her children and grandchildren as well.

Jean and Bud enjoyed a special relationship. They wrote about it in the December 1978 issue of GOURMET Magazine. An Evening at the Waldorf chronicles the evening of their engagement.

It is a wonderfully engaging story of a young couple, a special hotel, and a time when doing for others was a common practice.

I hope you will take a moment to read it. It is a gift that will make any day a better one.

You can find a copy of An Evening at the Waldorf at http://www.usna.org/family/waldorf.html.

Jim Range and Jean Ince have made our world a better place. Their friends and families miss them but their memories will warm our hearts forever.

Vote for Jim Range as the Budweiser Conservationist of the Year

News from TRCP:

Vote for TRCP Co-founder and Former Chairman Jim Range as 2010 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year.

Jim Range, one of the country’s greatest champions for sportsmen-conservationists, has been honored with a posthumous nomination as a finalist for the Budweiser Conservationist of the Year award. This annual program recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to perpetuating the American outdoor way of life. Budweiser and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will donate $50,000 to the 2010 winner’s conservation organization of choice, with the money to fund the group’s conservation efforts. The three runners-ups will receive $5,000 grants for the conservation organization of their choosing. Jim’s family has designated the TRCP to receive the proceeds from this honor.

Since losing Jim so suddenly 10 months ago, we at the TRCP, along with the  thousands who loved Jim and worked with him for better conservation of our natural resources, have sought out ways to honor his legacy and leadership. Budweiser and NFWF have given us all an opportunity to say “thank you” again to Jim for everything he did to help guarantee us all quality places to hunt and fish.

Jim spent his entire professional life conserving and enhancing Americans’ hunting and fishing opportunities. His cumulative efforts stand as a very high benchmark to those of us who care about our outdoor sporting heritage – and the lands and waters on which we pursue these traditions. His ability to inspire passion in others through his words and actions rallied countless supporters around his conservation vision.

In addition to his critical role in establishing and chairing the TRCP, Jim served on the boards of directors for Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, the Wetlands America Trust, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, the American Bird Conservancy,  the Pacific Forest Trust, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, among others. He also was an original NFWF board member and worked directly with many other hunting, fishing and conservation groups to advance conservation and sportsmen’s interests in Washington and around the country. During his 11 years on Capitol Hill working for Sen. Howard Baker, Jim fought tirelessly to conserve our natural resources with a bipartisan approach that became his trademark. He played a critical role in the passage of several landmark laws, including the Clean Water Act. In 2003, Jim received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given by the department to an individual at the national level.

The deadline for voting is December 15th – vote today.

To vote, go to www.budweiser.com – after logging in, click on the “vote” link on the home page and select Jim from the four finalists.

Votes also can be submitted via mail. On a 3-inch by 5-inch card, print your name, address, age and name of candidate (“Jim Range”). Mail the card to 2010 Budweiser Conservationist of the Year, P.O. Box 750026, El Paso, TX 88575-0026.

Voters must be aged 21 or older, and voting is limited to one vote per person. The 2010 award will be presented at an event during the SHOT Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 21.

Since Anheuser-Busch was founded in 1852, the company has been committed to conserving natural resources. Budweiser, its partners and consumers have raised $8.7 million over the past 10 years to conserve vital habitat and wildlife across the country. Visit www.anheuser-busch.com.

A nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Since its establishment, NFWF has awarded more than 10,000 grants to more than 3,500 organizations, and its work has resulted in more than $1.5 billion invested in conservation. Visit www.nfwf.org.

Learn more about Jim Range, his efforts on behalf of America’s sportsmen-conservationists and the fund established in his memory.

Vote for Jim Range as the Budweiser Conservationist of the Year!

Full Disclosure: I am a consultant to the TRCP. TRCP provided this material. I received no compensation for posting it. Any one who knows me knows Jim was one of my closest friends for nearly 20 years. Here is a link to the tribute i wrote when he died earlier this year.

TRCP Honors Conservation Giants at Annual Awards Dinner

On Wednesday night, September 30, I had the honor to be part of this event. It was a great chance to share more Jim Range stories with many of his good friends. He may be gone but events like this remind us that he is far from forgotten.

This TRCP press release captures the evening quite well.

TRCP Honors Conservation Giants at Annual Awards Dinner

At second annual Capital Conservation Honors, the TRCP pays tribute to Rep. John D. Dingell,
Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris and TRCP co-founder Jim Range,
launching Jim Range Conservation Fund in his honor

WASHINGTON – At its second annual Capital Conservation Honors, held last night near the group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership recognized the achievements of some of the sportsmen-conservation world’s brightest stars and launched a fundraising effort honoring the legacy of former TRCP chairman and co-founder Jim Range. The two-year campaign for the TRCP Jim Range Conservation Fund begins with $150,000 in contributions already in hand and has a fundraising goal of $2 million.

The gala event featured a keynote address by Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and best-selling author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. Congressman John D. Dingell of Michigan was awarded the TRCP’s Sportsman’s Champion Award for his leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives on legislation to protect our nation’s waters and wetlands and to provide funding for fish and wildlife adaptation strategies in climate change legislation. Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and a lifelong conservationist who has donated millions of dollars to conservation and education groups, was presented with the TRCP’s Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award. Lead sponsors of the Sept. 30 event included Bass Pro Shops, Beretta, Frontiers Travel and Orvis.

“The TRCP’s Capital Conservation Honors recognizes the best of the past, present and future of conservation in America,” said George Cooper, TRCP president and CEO. “Reflecting on the lives of giants such as Theodore Roosevelt, John Dingell, Johnny Morris and Jim Range showcases the great achievements that sportsmen have made in the name of conservation – yet also lights a path forward by illustrating how much remains to be done to assure the future of our shared natural resources and our great sporting traditions.”

Throughout his success, Johnny Morris has remained an ardent conservationist and is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Sport Fishing Institute’s Fisherman of the Year award, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies President’s Award, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Conservationist of the Year award, the Master Conservation award from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Hunting Heritage Award. He was inducted into the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame in 2005 and has been named one of the 25 most influential people in hunting and fishing by Outdoor Life magazine.

“Conservation of our outdoor resources remains a cornerstone of our company,” said Morris. “I am humbled by this honor and pledge to continue carrying on the legacy of sportsmen-conservationists like Teddy Roosevelt and Jim Range.”

Jim Range, who passed away in January, was memorialized with the official launch of the Jim Range Conservation Fund. A hero of modern conservation, Range was instrumental in the crafting and passage of a string of landmark natural resource laws, including the Clean Water Act. Range served on the boards of directors for Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, the Wetlands America Trust, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust. An original board member and chair of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Range also was a White House appointee to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council and the Valles Caldera Trust.

“When Jim Range co-founded the TRCP, I thought ‘no one better,’” said Theodore Roosevelt IV, a member of the JRCF Leadership Council. “He never removed conservation into ideology. For Jim, as for TR, conservation was about people as much as about place. He was a ‘real guy’ who could talk to absolutely anyone and keep them at the table: hunters, steamfitters, CEOs.”

Range’s dedication to the conservation of fish and wildlife in support of the nation’s sporting traditions remains entrenched in sportsmen’s lives through the TRCP. The TRCP’s establishment of the Jim Range Conservation Fund assures that Range’s conservation legacy as directed through the mission of the TRCP endures and will be perpetuated through the group’s ongoing efforts on behalf of American hunters and anglers.

“Range understood the great art of politics but never became so involved in ‘winning’ that he lost sight of the goal: service,” continued Roosevelt. “It is the hope of all of us that this fund will be the beginning of permanent financing to protect our hunting and fishing traditions.”

“The Jim Range Conservation Fund will assure that Jim Range’s voice continues to influence the way we as a nation use and enjoy our shared resources and fish and wildlife habitat,” said TRCP Board Chair Jim Martin, conservation director of the Berkley Conservation Institute, “and by recognizing and honoring the achievements of other great sportsmen-conservationists, the TRCP intends to perpetuate that benefaction. This is the foundation of the TRCP’s Capital Conservation Honors, and this is the legacy of our great friend Jim Range.”

The JRCF Leadership Council is led by Co-chairmen Hon. Howard H. Baker Jr. and Ted Turner. Council members are James A. Baker IV, Charles “Chip” H. Collins, Matthew B. Connolly Jr., George Cooper V, David Perkins, Charles S. Potter Jr., Theodore Roosevelt IV, John M. Seidl and R. Beau Turner. Additional support for the second annual Capital Conservation Honors was provided by the Range family, Dusan Smetana Photography and The Thomas Group.

Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.

#

The Jim Range National Casting Call

On Monday I was in Washington, D.C. to participate in the Jim Range National Casting Call. I also had the privilege that evening to be the Master of Ceremonies at the event celebrating the life and conservation legacy of Jim Range, my dear friend who tragically died in January from cancer.

This was the ninth year that the American Fly Fishing Trade Association had gathered on the banks of the Potomac river to celebrate fly-fishing and an aquatic habitat success story, the return of prolific runs of American and Hickory shad to the Potomac river.

This was a special year for those of us who, under Range’s leadership, started the Casting Call. AFFTA’s board of directors, after conferring with the Range family and his friends, decided to rename the event in Range’s honor.

Jim Range was a widely recognized conservation visionary who represented AFFTA in Washington. He was a hero to many in the hunting, fishing and conservation community.

I wrote in this column at the time of his death that he was like a brother to me. The best man in my wedding, a hunting and fishing partner of many years, and the voice on the other end of the phone keeping me strong when trouble came. I still feel that way today and know many more who do as well.

Range saw the Casting Call and its venue, Fletcher’s boathouse on the Potomac, as the perfect opportunity for the fly-fishing industry to educate members of congress and administration officials on the important nexus between conservation and economic activity.

He knew as well that the partnership efforts that had gone into restoring shad to the Potomac were a model that could be replicated across the nation.

“The Jim Range National Casting Call gives us a chance to get government decision-makers on the Potomac to see and experience the aquatic resource we all cherish,” said Alan Gnann, Chairman of the Board of AFFTA. “It was our friend Jim who showed us that this was the best way to communicate the importance of aquatic habitat and fisheries and we will continue this tradition in his name and his honor.”

Around the time of the first casting call, the federally chartered Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, of which Range was a member, recommended that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service develop a partnership effort similar to the successful North American Waterfowl Management Plan.

This effort, endorsed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and supported by numerous conservation organization and federal agencies became the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

The Action Plan is a science-based voluntary effort to address the challenges facing aquatic habitat and our nation’s fisheries. There are six regional partnerships, including the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture that works here in the Valley.

Range saw the newly created National Fish Habitat Action Plan as an exceptional example of how partnerships like the one that had helped the shad could be replicated across the country. He saw the National Casting Call as a great opportunity to showcase success.

“The National Fish Habitat Action Plan’s approach – teaming federal, state and local partners – is helping to bring fishable waters back to life in a faster more strategic way. We can see real progress in treating the causes of fish habitat decline, not just the symptoms,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman, National Fish Habitat Action Plan. “The Jim Range National Casting Call gives NFHAP the opportunity to spotlight 10 specific projects that display on the ground work that can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should be.”

The Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” was started in 2007. It highlights examples of aquatic habitat conservation efforts of the National Fish Habitat Partnerships. In addition the NFHAP board presents two group awards and two individual awards including newly renamed Jim Range Conservation Vision Award, given this year to world- renowned conservationist Yvon Chouinard, the founder of outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia Inc.

Jim Range was deeply missed at this year’s Casting Call, but his name and legacy live on in tribute to his memory.

You can read more of my columns at News Virginian.com

A Look at the George Washington National Forest Plan

Valley hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists of all forms need to take some time and pay attention to the George Washington National Forest’s Land and Resource Management Plan revision process. As the schedule now stands, the draft plan may be ready in late spring 2009.

According to their Web site, “The purpose of this land management plan is to provide broad guidance and information for project and activity decision making needed to manage the George Washington National Forest [GW].”

The forest’s planning staff has been holding public workshops on various aspects of the plan revisions since early 2007. Two more workshops are coming up with the subject: Forest Plan Components, fitting the workshops and other information together toward a Draft Plan.

There is a workshop today from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rockbridge Co. High School in Lexington and another on Feb. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School in Woodstock.

The U.S. Forest Service held seven public meetings last March to introduce people to the Forest Plan revision process. In July, five meetings were held to continue the discussions on changes needed and what to concentrate on in the Forest Plan revision process.

This fall workshops were held to discuss three different subjects, Vegetation Management, Road and Trail Access and Wilderness, Roadless and Potential Wilderness Areas.

These workshops are the most important ones for recreational users. The challenges surrounding access, timber harvesting, wilderness designations and off road vehicle use can really get people’s blood boiling.

Of special interest is the amount of Potential Wilderness Area and the impact that could have on hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation.

Let me be clear from the outset. Because land is included in a Potential Wilderness Area doesn’t change the way it is managed today. Only Congress has the authority to designate wilderness.

Today, 37 areas totaling 370,000 acres are identified as Potential Wilderness Areas in the George Washington National Forest. An additional 42,000 acres are designated Wilderness Area and 7,700 acres are National Scenic Areas. That represents just over 40 percent of the forest.

Don’t get me wrong Wilderness Areas are great. They provide a number of very important ecological and recreational benefits. They are some of my favorite places to fish and hunt.

Having more in the George Washington National Forest is a good idea. Where they are is going to be the challenge.

Most types of recreational uses are allowed in Wilderness Areas except those involving motorized equipment.

Wilderness Areas by federal law have significant restrictions, however. Timber harvesting, road building, clearing and waterhole development, and other wildlife management techniques cannot be performed in Wilderness Areas.

These activities, if done correctly, are important tools for enhancing recreational activities. If the land base available for wildlife habitat management is significantly reduced then hunting could suffer.

Over the years, the U.S. Forest Service, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries along with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Ruffed Grouse Society have invested manpower and money developing and maintaining wildlife habitats.

Some of the lands identified for Potential Wilderness Area include many existing wildlife habitat developments, including clearings and waterholes. These wildlife clearings provide much-needed habitat. Designating all these areas as Wilderness could eliminate these clearings as natural succession returns them over time to a forested state.

Much of this area is popular with wildlife recreational users who depend on the George Washington National Forest for access to wildlife populations. Fishing for native Brook Trout takes place in some of these areas. Bear, deer, turkey, ruffed grouse, raccoon, rabbit, squirrel and other species are hunted in these areas. The wildlife habitat value of these lands has been enhanced by previous timber harvesting and wildlife habitat work.

So there needs to be a balance.

There is a lot of good information on the George Washington National Forest Plan Revision Web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/forestplan/revision/index.shtml.

There you will find documents, schedules and how to make your views known.
I won’t kid you. This can be hard stuff to wade through. It takes time and effort to read all the information and comments. But our ability to enjoy our public lands requires engagement on our part.

Take some time to offer your thoughts to the Forest Service. Your ideas are just as important and count as much as the next guy’s, but only if you share them.

On a more personal note, thank you for the kind words about my friends Jim Range and Jean Ince. They were warmly appreciated.

Jim’s memorial service took place on Tuesday January 27, along the banks of the Potomac River at Fletchers Cove in Washington. More than 200 of his friends and colleagues joined with his family in celebrating his life and many accomplishments.

Mixed in with the copious tears were many moments of hearty laughter as those in attendance responded to tales and reflections of Range. His life was magic for all us and in celebrating his life we relived that magic.

You can go to JimRange.com to capture a glimpse of his remarkable life. The Web site, created to honor and memorialize his life, has a wonderful collection of stories, pictures and tributes to Range.