Hunters and anglers scored a major victory with the recent defeat of H.R. 621. But, with H.R. 622, BLM 2.0 and a host of other legislation aimed at dismantling our public lands systems, the risk of losing access to public lands is sure to be a constant concern in the future. Because the fight is far from over, all hunters and anglers owe it to themselves to learn as much as they can about the history of public lands in the United States.

These books will help you develop a deeper understanding of the heritage surrounding our public lands. This diverse collection goes beyond hunting and fishing and delves into many of the critical issues that make the American public lands system one of our greatest achievements-one worth fighting to preserve.

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water –Marc Reisner

Written over twenty years ago, Reisner’s account of the convoluted political and economic battles over a dwindling water supply is now even more important as our populations grow. As reservoir levels continue dropping below sustainable levels throughout the West, America’s public lands, which harbor the headwaters of our greatest river systems, are an ever more crucial resource for millions of people.

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness- Edward Abbey

Abbey’s first nonfiction book was written in 1968. Fifty years ago there was a hell of a lot more space to roam but Abbey foresaw a population losing touch with nature, threatening our wildest places.  His contagious passion for the solitude and beauty found in the backcountry will get you thinking just the notion of selling off our public lands is a criminal offense.

The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of a Vanishing Way of Life Along the Continental Divide-Frank Clifford

North America’s Continental Divide spans thousands of miles, running the length of the remote, rugged Rocky Mountains. Lamenting a pioneering spirit that is disappearing in America, Clifford studies the people and places along the spine of the Rockies. The book poignantly highlights the stark beauty and cultural relevance of the unspoiled, high country public lands found along the divide of our nation’s largest mountain range.

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America-Douglas Brinkley

A patriot, naturalist, hunter and conservationist, Roosevelt is probably turning over in his grave considering the risks our Wilderness Areas, National Parks, Forests, Refuges, Seashores and BLM lands now face. Over a century ago, Roosevelt was ahead of his time when he pioneered a system that would provide all Americans a place to hunt and fish. He also recognized the need to conserve wild places based on their environmental importance alone.  The Wilderness Warrior documents the fascinating story of Roosevelt’s efforts to shape the idea of conservation as we know it today, providing us a platform for tomorrow.

America’s Public Lands: From Yellowstone to Smokey Bear and Beyond- Randall K. Wilson

This is a very informative overview of our entire public lands system. It breaks down the history of how it all began and how nature and conservation played a role in the creation of our public lands system. Wilson describes the different public land agencies, discussing how they work, what their goals are and the difficult management issues they currently face. In a country that places a huge amount of value on private property this book is a testament to the millions of acres of public land all Americans can access.

Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on the importance of our public lands system. You can start by reading these books.  Then, take the next step and call your Congressional Representatives to voice your support for public lands. Join  Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and donate to the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Finally, get out there and enjoy hunting and fishing on your public lands.

Brody Henderson is a hunter, fly fishing guide, writer, wilderness production assistant for the MeatEater television show and MeatEater‘s editorial contributor