I think it is important this year to think deep on what you can take away to be thankful for. Around our Thanksgiving table, we discussed how in a lifetime of years blending together, this one will be especially memorable and we need to take away good memories.

Our Thanksgiving was smaller this year. Yours likely was, too. While the challenges we’ve faced in 2020 have been formidable, there have been bright spots and some changes for the better that will likely never revert. I think it is important this year to think deep on what you can take away to be thankful for. Around our Thanksgiving table, we discussed how in a lifetime of years blending together, this one will be especially memorable and we need to take away good memories.

To begin with, I’m thankful for virtual meetings. Now, I’m the first to say how much I value in-person experiences. I miss gathering in large groups at trade shows, conventions, conferences and banquets. These are all the industry version of family reunions. I miss the people and experiencing new places. What I’m talking about is the modern convenience and ability of just about every working professional and student to now be able to meet with peers, bosses, customers and clients via an online video conference.

This is positive for a number of reasons. First of all, it means fewer nights away from home and more time with family. A meeting that used to require a couple of days of travel, is now completed in an hour from a home office. This is also great for our environment. Less travel means less fossil fuel use, which means less carbon released into our atmosphere. We are addressing climate change by traveling less.

My Monday commute to St. Louis used to be a nightmare once I hit the Chesterfield Valley. Bumper to bumper traffic for sometimes close to an hour. Now I breeze through. There are fewer people commuting to work. Working from home is now much more common than just a year ago. Holds outs who were against it, now see productivity can remain while expenses are reduced. Also, the next time you’re outside after dark, preferably when you are sitting around a campfire, look up to the night sky and count the jets flying. You’ll probably see some, but few compared to what it used to look like. Our air quality is benefiting from this significant reduction in fuel use.

The year also brought about us a few huge conservation wins. The Great American Outdoors Act passed. Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually. Of which, $15 million must be spent annually to increase public access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting and other forms of outdoor recreation.

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and a on the short list for the top spot at the EPA in President-elect Biden’s administration said, "Passing the Great American Outdoors Act is quite simply the most significant investment in conservation in decades. It's a huge win for wildlife, our natural treasures, our economy and all Americans who enjoy our America's public lands for solace, recreation and exercise, especially amid this pandemic.

Most recently, the permit for the proposed open-pit mine threatening the Bristol Bay region of Alaska was denied. This protects the fishery and supports the will of the people, both local and from afar.

Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, said, “The Corps’ denial of the permit for the Pebble Mine is a victory for common sense. Bristol Bay is the wrong place for industrial-scale mining, and we look forward to working with the people of the Bristol Bay region, Alaska’s Congressional delegation, the state and other partners to permanently protect Bristol Bay and its world-class fisheries.”

The year 2020 has given us some wins. Certainly, there have been more than a few losses. We have all suffered in ways both big and small. With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas just around the corner, let’s continue to find reasons to be thankful. Then on December 31, let’s party and celebrate a new beginning.

See you down the trail…

For more Driftwood Outdoors, check out the podcast on www.driftwoodoutdoors.com or anywhere podcasts are streamed.