Womb’n’s Day & Sage Grouse

March 11th 2022 marks the conclusion of the Wyoming legislative budget season and the window for vocalizing opposition to SF 61 – Sage Grouse Game Bird Farms – is down to the final vote. This bill is the shit bandaid for habitat destruction in favor of oil & gas leasing on public lands: at the start of 2022, the federal government posted plans to lease more than 179,000 acres of public lands for development and many of these parcels are within range of this already sensitive species. There is a healthy heaping of scientific data and interpersonal narratives and especially from the ancestral perspectives at the Indigenous Land Alliance of Wyoming who all have built a strong standing stance against this bill.

More can be read at the Wyoming Wildlife Federation and Wyoleg.gov has the listing of your representatives whom you need to contact.
(Comparatively, the book King of Fish by David Montgomery covers a similar fate of farming and expensive recovery of the iconic Salmon species.)

Lobbying against this with unwavering, fierce dedication is Jessica Johnson: co-founder of the Artemis Sportswomen group; dancer and bow hunter; an exceptional storyteller and a woman who acknowledges the privilege of hunting through her work with Camo at the Capitol, where she leads advocacy training in the legislative process for hunters and anglers across the state. February 24th of 2022 counted the 6th gathering and the attending numbers are growing and driven by vibrant diversity. Auna Kaufmann-Schwartz, her sharp and heartfull intern, is openly Queer and hosts this pride with her representation as a hunter. Writing for the changing narrative occurring within hunting is Outside magazine journalist and author of The Source of All Things, Tracy Ross; a supportive, engaging and authentic woman who came all the way up from Colorado to meet and interview Jess.

Representation from the source is everything. Our stories are our tethers and steadfast education (transparency and inclusion) without bias is the mended network for empowering and illuminating the language for keeping pace with change. To speak up for wilderness and continue to push through oppressions at the pedestals of local politics is a necessary avenue to consider and if you’re a hunter or angler in the state of Wyoming I implore you to get involved and start stepping up (and read Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kemmerer if you haven’t yet because it’s *so lovely* and nurtures these critical themes with such devotion) and I’m thinking of all the hunters I have known and the ones who shared knowledge with me when I wanted to learn and how my respect for them is so immense. When I showed up to Camo, my intentions were to expand my knowledge and have some conversations and maybe share a poem I had written if there was opportunity for it. Not knowing what to expect, I was deeply moved by what I witnessed and who I met: I’m high-lighting the women here because they are cutting down the bullshit and blazing in a place that has long been dominated by outdated and linear mentalities. It’s hard work. Exhausting work. But worthy work ~ for the grouse and their right to be as they are without us ~ and for the land, who needs our healing and our participation and our strength and our bridges.

On the Greater Sage Grouse;
For all the careful measurements that I make with words, it is challenging to write about these chic-kins. They’re just so above words and feel so timeless: as timeless as the relative and extravagant features that define their home in sprawling sage lands – as timeless as volcanic cores and eroded ancient springs, with records of their bones being uncovered just around the last ice age. Can that even really be defined? Quantified? How long have they danced their persuasive strides on this terrain, bloating their bodies into iconic stature, posing for the hens, refining their displays, stomping their grounds?

It is impossible to talk about one thing without touching upon the other, and in this case for the Greater Sage Grouse, the concerning encroachment of their habitat and the interwoven impacts from changing climate are but portional parts of a greater whole to their evolving story. He has, in our era, become a powerful symbol for western conservation, a patron for giving our consumer-centric view a swift and effortless disregard: and when I look at him I see a mighty gawky creature with memory that far precedes all the scratches at words we make to keep them protected and rooted where they are: where they have always been, where they always belong. What are words, in their value, in the shadow of these hosts, the Greater Grouse Giants?

We are their guests.