Just prior to the end of June “BB” sent a message by text that he wanted to meet in an unusual place. He asked that we meet just outside the Black Mesa Ranger District offices. To say that my curiosity was piqued would be an understatement. The meeting time was scheduled for a full moon, so I knew that a midnight meet was possible. Considering that it was on a Monday night and that the folks in Heber roll up their sidewalks after dark, I knew that “BB” felt safe. I wondered long and hard on the ride up what he was up to. Meeting in what constitutes downtown Heber meant I did not need the Tundra, so with fuel savings in mind I headed up the Beeline in my Prius.
I pulled into the Black Mesa Ranger District parking lot and shut down the Prius. It was a little before midnight so I walked around the area looking at the buildings and remembering how many times I had been there to visit and ask questions. I heard “BB” coming in from the back area and I turned around to greet him. He looked splendid in the moonlight with his impressive rack spreading out all over the place. His drop tine had grown in substantially and he had put on a little weight since our last visit. “Well “BB”, you look fabulous” I said. He looked me over and grunted, “You’re looking a little on the thin side boy. What the hell you been doing?” I laughed and said, “Remember that elk tag this fall? I knew that if I wasn’t in decent shape I would have a hard time running all over these hills, so I watched my diet, added some workouts and stayed clear of pizza and breads.” “BB” snorted and said ,“You should try alfalfa. It bulks you up and adds tons of protein. Just look at me and what a fine figure of a bull I am.” I looked him over and couldn’t help myself. “Yeah “BB” you certainly have many features that qualify as bull.” “BB” stared hard and finally chuckled. “Okay, that’s a human joke right? You couldn’t put that one past me I know human jokes when I hear them. I’ve listened to enough conversations outside of camps in the dark when you humans head for your little tents and start trash talking.” I laughed to myself and said, “Yeah “BB” humans do a lot of trash talking. So why in the world are we meeting here?”
“BB” sighed and said, “This represents where all the control of my world comes from. We have the elknet up here in the woods and when reception is good, I can get some of the news from what you humans do that affects our world. The reason we are meeting here is to point out something very important. What do you see here?” I looked around and said, “Well, it’s a building that the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest operates and where some of their employees work. What am I missing?” “BB” shook his head and said, “No dummy, think in broader terms. What do you see here?” By this time I was getting a little exasperated. “Damn “BB”, there’s nothing here but a building in a little tiny community miles from the big cities and surrounded by forest.” “Finally “BB” nodded his head and said, “Now you’re gettin’ it. This office is controlled by all those darn city folks who haven’t got a lick of sense regarding wildlife and what really happens up here all year long. We hear about all these darn surveys that say people want to see wolves and horses and they hate ranchers and cattle and what they call redneck folks who live up here. You folks always say that a majority of the vote should determine what the country does right?” I had to follow along with my friend’s process, so I just nodded. “BB” kept right on rolling. “Think about that for a second boy. A bunch of know-nothing-city-folks are trying to ram down their thoughts about wildlife and how to treat the land when they seldom, if ever, get their hands dirty or do anything to help out. When are we gonna let wildlife make determinations about how your darn cities are run? How is it that city folks, just because they have numbers, should tell rural America how to run the lands and wildlife? Who has put waters in and kept wildlife alive for years? Who knows what really goes on out here except the people and wildlife that live here? City boys run newspapers and paint wolves and jaguars as wonderful creatures and ranchers and cattle as the evil empire. They come out with their “opinions” from behind a damn desk. Hell, I bet most of those paper boys have never set foot in a wilderness area. But look at how they paint a picture to the dumb public that still buys their papers. They are controlling the public attitude and that pushes the folks that work in this little building to some darn stupid decisions. I heard that they want over 750 wolves to be all across the state. They claim that ranchers are taking unfair advantage of public lands and that all cattle should be removed from public lands. Who then is gonna do the necessary work up here?”
“BB” finally took a deep breath. “Okay, we’re all pretty frustrated up here about how the folks who live in these communities are being told by city folks how to run their towns and forests. I wanted you to know that we’re mad as hell and not gonna take it any more!” I have to admit that my jaw had dropped at his outburst. I had never seen “BB” so angry. There was a lot of truth to what he had said. Rural communities are being told what to do and how to do it by slick city editors that lean pretty far to the left and convince their readers that they know what’s best. I’ve written letters and gotten a couple published, but by far the majority of what does get published is all for a world that can never exist again. “Healthy Ecosystem”, the current buzzwords of the envriolitigants, have the public swayed in a way that frightens all of the people who have worked the land for years. I can’t say I blame them either. Most city folks get a few days a year to climb up the hills from the Valley and spend a couple of nights under the stars and suddenly they become experts. Liberal media and the environmentalists push an agenda that the rural folks hate. I stared at “BB” in the moonlight. I didn’t have any answers and he knew it. He gave me a sad look and said, “Write what you can to help us. Your groups have done all the work to help us and we appreciate it. City folk are like blisters – they show up when the work has been done and they’re a pain to deal with.” I nodded in agreement and told “BB” I would hook up with him again when the hunt was around the corner. He slowly made his way from the parking lot and headed back toward his world. I sadly had to get in the Prius and come back to mine.