A Visit To Lodi: We All Live Downstream
Best hospitality I've experienced in a long time.
That's Lodi, Wisconsin.
Remember the Creedence Clearwater Revival Tune? Sure, it was about Lodi, Calif., but who cares?
"Just about a year ago
Headed out on the road
Seekin' my fame and fortune
Lookin' for a pot of gold
Things got bad
Oh, Lord – stuck in Lodi again."
Well, Lord, you could stick me in Lodi again – anytime.
I loved it there.
The person who brought me in to speak invited me to the family barbecue the night before. Lodi's that kind of place.
Strangers took me fishing. It's that kind of place.
The fishing options were plentiful and beautiful: Rolling trees, heavily forested, falling into the water. That kind of place.
But when I checked into the hotel, I was disturbed by the sign at the front desk. The same sign was posted in my room, right by the sink, too.
Here's a great place with great people, but their drinking water's not safe.
If it's not safe for babies or pregnant and nursing women, let's be honest, it's not great for anybody.
And it's not just Lodi, Wisc. Across the country, the US EPA says that 49% of our waters are "impaired," which means that the water's not safe to drink or swim in, and it can't support a healthy fishery.
The sign in my hotel room in Lodi is just another one of those real-world examples of how "our lifestyle runs downstream." It's not the bag of trash I cleaned up from the lakeshore that caused this problem, and all of us removing all the trash we find at the lakeshore won't fix it, either.
Nope, it's runoff from the dairy state's farms. Septic tanks in the cabins that line the lakes. It's lush green lawns in all those neighborhoods from Green Bay to Madison, Milwaukee and Eau Claire. They all drain downstream, down asphalt streets to concrete tubes and straight to those great lakes and streams. It's these things and all those other tiny drops in the bucket that we're all responsible for.
I really liked the people of Lodi and I want to know that anglers who visit a generation from now are going to be able to have the same kind of experience there that I did, or better.
Perhaps better because the warm value of hospitality will have been passed on down through family lines, and if we do it right, those signs will be gone from the hotels.
The water will be safe to drink.
Because what's at stake when we talk about stewarding our waters well isn't fish or fishing. It's not even about clean drinking water.
It's about us – about people. It's always about people, because it's us who pursue the fish. Us who need the water to drink.
Everybody needs clean water, but those of us who fish are connected to our waters in a special way. If anglers – those of us who actually experience the changes in our waters firsthand – aren't willing to lead the charge to steward our waters well, then who will?
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about the author
Recycled Fish is the national non-profit organization of "anglers living a Lifestyle of Stewardship both on and off the water, because Our Lifestyle Runs Downstream."