It’s unavoidable as a topic these days: The BP oil spill and what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no reason for us to go into the details. Everyone knows oil is gushing into the water. Everyone knows it’s the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Everyone is well aware it’s tragic.

It is when this kind of situation arises that we have to take the time to be thankful for exactly what we have up here in the Northeast. We have pristine country sides with gorgeous forests. Mostly, we live pollution free. We can choose to be immersed in wilderness whenever we want to be.

There’s no telling how far the oil in the gulf is going to reach. It’s already lapped up on the shores of Florida. We’re no experts, but it’s not unfathomable that oil could end up on some of the beaches of the Northeastern states. Experts are saying that the only way the oil is going to stop flowing into the water is to drill relief wells. Those won’t be done until the fall. It’s likely that Florida isn’t the last stop for the oil slicks.

And if it hits here? As hunters and outdoors enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to step up and do our part. Join in the cleanup efforts. Help protect wildlife. Do whatever we can to help keep our coastlines clean and free of this mess.

And if it doesn’t? First and foremost, let’s be thankful we avoided such disaster. But, let’s take a moment to do our part anyway. Join in a community cleanup. Ask your hunting club or gun and rod club to adopt a highway or favorite country road to keep clean twice a year.

It’s frightening to think about how fragile the environment really is. Air can be polluted by factories. Water can be fouled by mines and chemical discharges. The land can be messed up by a leaky gas storage unit at the local station.

It’s important to always keep in mind that even the littlest actions can have undesirable consequences. The rings of a six-pack can lead to the death of a bird or other animal if discarded improperly. A can or bottle can lead to the injury of not only a wild animal, but your favorite hunting dog. Garbage tossed to the side of the road often leads to unnecessary road kill.

Hunters here in the Northeast have traditionally shown that they care about the environment. They do what they can to keep it clean and to clean up after themselves. That’s something to be proud of. Our land, our water and our air is still clean because people care and have taken note.

And while it is unfortunate the events happening in the gulf, it reminds us to be thankful of what we have. We don’t have to wait until our environment is in shambles to realize what we have. We can enjoy it now, each and every day.

Be it hunting, fishing or just relaxing outside, it’s sure great to live in the Northeast.

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