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In Honor of the 4th of July

Wide Open Spaces wishes you and yours a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.

It happens every year: the summer springs on us with almost no warning, and before we know it, the 4th of July comes along. The realization of the date usually comes with head shaking and mutters of 'I can't believe it's already July!'

The grills get lit, family and friends gather, and fireworks are shot into the sky.

Then the day slips away, we blink, and hunting season is right around the corner.

But this year, it's worth taking a few moments to think about something that could set the course for the rest of your summer. That something is this: because of the freedom the 4th of July symbolizes, we're able to participate in and benefit from the amazingness of the outdoors.

Politics, human rights, conservation and environmental impact play big roles in the outdoors, but set them aside for a minute. Think about how easy it is for you to leave your home, travel a reasonable distance, and be immersed in the beauty and awe of our incredible natural world.

So many Americans have the ability to enjoy sporting pursuits in the great outdoors, and for those that don't, efforts are being made to make it easier. For the most part, hunting and fishing access is improving, hiking and camping are more welcoming to the uninitiated, and shooting sports are increasingly gaining popularity.

The doors to these hobbies are wide open, and we have a real chance to further cement the appreciation for them into our society, and more importantly, the future of our society.

That's the last point to make: now is the time to encourage youngsters to enjoy the outdoors as much as we do. Only then will they be protected as the years advance and time keeps moving forward. Without another strong, vocal, and involved group of participants, the fascination of a first buck, building a campfire, or just being outside in the wilderness will get lost.

On this Independence Day, we wish you all the best. We wish a gigantic thank you to all the armed services who protect our country, and allow us to take advantage of the freedom America was founded on.

But we also challenge you to remember how important it is that we can experience the joys of the great outdoors within the borders of our great country, and how vital it is to keep that going.

NEXT: Happy Independence Day! Here's the Star Spangled Banner with Musical Targets [VIDEO]

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In Honor of the 4th of July