This guest blog was written by Emily Williams, ICL member and avid runner. On Saturday, Aug 5, she’s running an ultramarathan on behalf of the Idaho Conservation League. Show your support for her run and her generosity.  

I have a confession to make. Growing up in Idaho, I took public land for granted. I thought it was the norm to walk out your front door and roam to your heart’s content. From building fairy houses and digging in the dirt as a kid to backcountry skiing and climbing peaks as I grew up, I have been lucky enough to hike, run, bike, ski and climb through the mountains that surround my home for my entire life. It took leaving the mountains to go to college in a state with almost no public land for me to realize just how lucky I was.

Idaho’s Rich Heritage of Public Lands

Over half of Idaho’s land area is public. These public lands give every resident and visitor to the state opportunity to play-from wandering through the sagebrush steppe to experiencing the views from the top of Mount Borah at 12,667 feet. Through proper management, sustainably engaging with these places leaves them open to discovery from one generation to the next. These lands are invaluable not only for the recreational opportunities they provide, but for animal habitat, the abundance of clean air and water, and our national heritage.

But neither access nor sustainable use practices are guaranteed. Already since Idaho gained statehood, 41% of its public land has been lost. If we don’t continue fighting to keep and protect our public land, we’ll forever lose the wild places yet left untrammeled by man.

For me, spending time running through public lands is a lesson in perspective. It teaches me that I’m only a tiny piece of this vast ecosystem we all depend on. I return humbled and reminded of my tiny place in the vast puzzle of the ecosystems we inhabit. The threat of losing these places through sale or improper management leaves an aching knot in my stomach. That knot is a reminder that, if we want to continue enjoying these wild places, we cannot take them for granted.

To protect these places, we need to support the ongoing daily battle to preserve them. We have to make it known why we value our public land and fight for them to be preserved in the same manner they are today. From helping to draft forest management plans to monitoring responsible land use, the Idaho Conservation League works tirelessly to support our public lands.

Running to Protect Our Public Lands

After spending almost all of my life taking advantage of the opportunity to explore these amazing places, I’ll be running through a small piece of Idaho’s pristine public land in my first ultramarathon on Aug 5. To give back to an organization that is helping to make this race possible by protecting the very ground we’ll be traveling over, I’m using the race as an opportunity to raise money for and awareness of the Idaho Conservation League.

If you care about these places too and want to protect them, consider donating to the ICL today, either through their website or through my fundraising site. I’ll be running a total of 38 miles. If you’re interested in donating for each mile run, whether it’s a dollar or five, you’re making a difference in protecting our public lands.