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Why Canada Might Be The Best Choice If The NBA Insists On Restarting In A Bubble League

Let me start by saying this is a bad idea. Even in the hypothetical world it exists in, it would still land anywhere from misguided to dangerous on the scale of outcomes. As far as ideas, it is really the last place thoughtful energy should be placed. Not my energy, for which this bad idea is more like spinning my wheels in the muck, but a waste of energy at a larger scale where it is being spent dreaming up viable scenarios in what has become a demonstrably untenable time for sheer fantasy.

The NBA season should be called. It should have been called already. Every day that passes where the league puts tentative first steps forward in announcing how teams will begin the slow work of practicing ends with several more steps back. The league says teams in markets where lockdown orders have eased may open their practice facilities to their players, but owners within some of those markets refuse. The league says teams may have a maximum of four players in each facility at a time, but teams deem the number too high and adjust for themselves. Every attempt at sequential progression brings with it another reminder that there is no typical, orderly way out of a pandemic.

But for the sake of launching one more ship on the sea of hypotheticals, here is an idea on how and where to restart the NBA season that doesn’t involve turning Las Vegas into a basketball Bio-Dome or rely on the false securities of Disney: What if the league just went to Canada?

Location is the first hurdle and an easy one to clear because all of Canada’s major cities are immediately off the table. Vancouver and Montreal are dealing with recovery from the country’s largest COVID-19 case loads. Toronto is, too. Toronto is also under provincial-wide laws that require gatherings, even in private, to include no more than five people. Throw in all of its useable game facilities being used to prep and provide 13,000 meals a day to the city’s frontline workers, and there’s nowhere for the NBA to go.

Looking to smaller cities with infrastructure in place and low infection rates, Winnipeg, in the Canadian prairies, and Halifax, on Canada’s east coast, are solid, purely imaginary candidates. The entire province of Manitoba, where Winnipeg is located, has recorded 283 infections to date, while Nova Scotia, the maritime province Halifax is the capital of, has just over 1,000. Both have pro sports teams and arenas that are either used currently for basketball or could be quickly converted. There is direct access to these arenas from nearby hotels, plus local sights and hospitality that would rival a ghost town Disney with a handful of mascots waving with forced cheer from six feet away or an emptied out Vegas where Criss Angel currently haunts the boulevard.

An outlier island of an option are Canada’s outlier islands. If the league wanted to take a twisted page out of Dana White’s book, a Canadian basketball island could be the answer. Prince Edward Island had only 27 COVID-19 cases, and Newfoundland 260, but there is definitely not enough room on PEI for 450 players and accompanying team staff. I don’t even mean that quaintly, there just may not be the square footage. Newfoundland’s spring weather would help in keeping most players shut inside when not competing, and St. Johns, the capital, has large arena facilities but is still small enough you could monitor by plain sight the travel of players.

Timing is the first wrench in this imaginary plan, because Canada requires a 14-day federally mandated quarantine for any person entering the country, regardless of origin. There are also travel restrictions into the country, all non-essential flights have been barred and Canadian airline companies have suspended trips to and from the United States. I’m waiving this one because each team would have its own charter, even if the gross excess that signals in a time of crisis would be a less than ideal message, but you know, sacrifices!

Fourteen days gives the league an actual numerical target to shoot toward rather than giving all of its teams different starting dates from which to shakily proceed and is peanuts compared to the continued — and necessary — lockdowns many states are facing, with no clear projections on when, if even why, those would be eased.

Assuming every player passed the 14-day quarantine and remained healthy, logistics are the next logical jumble to untangle in this illogical exercise. The NBA has not clarified, when speaking hypothetically about a season restart, whether it would be the season restarting from the exact point it paused and involve all 30 teams continuing on as scheduled or if the approach would go on a path accelerating teams toward the playoffs. We have heard that “all options are on the table” but with respect, some of the options are impossible as they would be painful to watch. Picture a Warriors team who has not practiced for eight weeks returning to play the rest of its season in full. Even as a Warriors fan, why would you want that?

If the NBA opted for an accelerated option, giving each team four to six more regular season games, teams could be staggered in their arrival to Canada. Two teams pass quarantine while the second two compete in back to back games, trading off with incoming teams to wait either in the city or nearby. Some examples: The Celtics temporarily living in Brandon, Manitoba, a two-hour drive from Winnipeg and a city of barely 50,000; or the Lakers undergoing a luxurious spa day on Fogo Island, where Gwyneth Paltrow has previously stayed in the island’s boutique hotel’s Flat Earth Suite for $5,000 (Canadian, a bargain) a night and where Kyrie Irving will gleefully spend his Canadian quarantine.

Alternately, seed the top-three teams in each conference as they were when play was halted (they’ve already clinched in the East and the West seems self-evident) and have the remaining five teams seed as-is, with wildcard games to determine order where teams are tied for wins. If the 8 and 9 seeds are close, as it is in the West, do the same. Either of these options makes the fake logistical planning easier, and lightens the additional imaginary load players and team staff will put on local healthcare and hospitality.

In terms of safeguards against reinfection for players and putting strain on communities, there are many built in. For starters, the country is pretty spread out. With its densest cities already off the table, the introduction of half the NBA entering its smaller ones would present a welcome economic opportunity for many small businesses furloughed by the pandemic, and an opportunity for the NBA to enjoy some new and extremely organic market growth. Player movement would be limited much like it is for every Canadian — lockdown orders have eased but it’s not as if there are that many places to go.

Canada’s universal healthcare system tends to gets blue skied, especially when viewed remotely and in crisis. There are still gaps, but when the worst you can accuse it of is staying competent, it lends itself as another good reason to pursue this bad idea. The hope would have to be, as it would be anywhere the NBA imagined it could do this, that the need for re-testing would be minimal. Even hypothetically, it is terrible to pull resources like tests and medical supplies from those who need them more, but if the league could make some kind of charitable contribution to meaningful Canadian organizations offsetting the impacts of COVID-19, it would be a decent way to say thanks for using some of its tests.

Finally, there are the hypothetical optics to think about. If the NBA season were to start up again in the United States, it could potentially signal to millions that things had returned to “normal.” That Trump’s jackhammering rhetoric of America being on the other side of the pandemic was true, expediting the dangerous fallout of people returning to public life too soon. Shifting the remainder of the season and postseason to Canada signals that things are serious enough that foreign soil was the better option, but with the added familiarity the tether of its lone Canadian franchise could offer. Sort of like, “We always wanted to spend more time here but never got the chance!”

Again, this is generally a bad idea. In the scheme of what is important right now, as much as it may provide welcome respite for many, the idea of the NBA restarting isn’t. But if the NBA is determined to do this well guess what — Canada can be, and kind of already is, your basketball island.

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RMR, Future, And Lil Baby Explore Historical Eras In Their Artistic ‘Dealer’ Video

RMR first came to mass attention this year when his hilarious, thematically odd “Rascal” video went viral thanks to the contrast between the style of the song and its accompanying visual. His next task was to prove that is more than just a gimmick-based meme, and he has been successful. “Dealer” helped establish him as a legitimate rapper who has the respect of his hip-hop peers, evidenced by the fact that Future and Lil Baby hopped on a remix of the song. Now the trio have teamed up on a visual for the track.

RMR has proven during his young career that he knows his way around a visual for a song, and nothing changes here. The video superimposes the rappers’ faces onto subtly animated pieces of art from throughout human history. The clip takes visual inspiration from Renaissance art, Egyptian deities, and other things from years passed to make this clip feel like an elevated piece of art.

More RMR is set to arrive at some point, as he previously declared his intention to release an EP titled Drug Dealing Is A Lost Art.

Watch the video for the “Dealer” remix above.

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Mark Hamill Confirms That He’s Done Being In ‘Star Wars’: ‘They Don’t Need Me’

Over the weekend, Mark Hamill shared an image of himself as Luke Skywalker on Instagram. “May The 9th Be A Bittersweet Episode- Knowing It Was The Last Time I Would Ever Play Luke,” he wrote, adding the hashtag “#ByeByeSkywalker.” Not much ambiguity there. But just in case: the Star Wars actor confirmed in an interview that after playing Darth Vader’s son (spoiler!) Luke from 1977’s A New Hope to 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker, he’s officially retired from bullseye-ing womp rats.

“I had a beginning, middle, and end. Those films gave me far more than I ever expected when we started out so it’s never even occurred to me. My farewell was in Episode IX and it was bittersweet,” Hamill told Entertainment Weekly. “I love all those people and I certainly have affection for George and the character he created. I’m full of gratitude for what it has given me and my career, but I don’t want to be greedy. There are still so many more stories to tell and so many great actors to tell them, they don’t need me.”

Disney hasn’t announced the plot of the next Star Wars film — we don’t even know who the director is; maybe Rian Johnson, maybe Taika Waiti, maybe someone TBA — but whenever it comes out, you (probably) won’t hear the name “Skywalker” or (maker-willing) “Palpatine.” Give the people what they want: no Luke Skywalker, but yes Watto!

(Via Entertainment Weekly)

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Eminem And Lil Wayne Explained Why They Google Their Lyrics Before They Write New Songs

Eminem and Lil Wayne have a lot more in common than rap fans might be aware. The “Drop The World” and “No Love” collaborators have always shared a mutual respect for each other despite being pit against each other by rap fans throughout the 2000s, but during the most recent episode of Wayne’s Beats 1 Radio show, Young Money Radio, the duo revealed just how much they mirror each other. It’s pretty common knowledge that both keep to themselves and only listen to a very select range of classic and emerging rap music outside of their own, but given how prolific each is, even they have trouble keeping up with their own music.

While detailing his songwriting process, Wayne revealed that he has to Google his own lyrics to make sure he’s not repeating himself. No sooner had he shared that information than Eminem confirmed that a quick lyrics search is part of his own songwriting ritual. “I literally have to Google my lyrics to make sure I didn’t say certain stuff,” Wayne admits, drawing an awed “Oh my God” from Em. “Yo, I swear to God, I do that too!” he commiserated. “That’s how long we’ve been doing this sh*t,” chuckled the younger rapper. “Soon as you go to my Safari, it’s gonna be ‘Lil Wayne lyrics.’”

While it’s likely these two aren’t the only ones who have to spot check for repetition — Questlove once bragged on his Roots partner-in-rhyme Black Thought for never repeating himself, and Black Thought’s been out almost a decade longer than both Wayne and Em — it’s fun to see them pull back the curtain and show that even they are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material they’ve put out over the course of their careers.

Listen to the latest episode of Young Money Radio here.

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Rich The Kid Is Reportedly Being Sued Over A Quarter-Million-Dollar Unpaid Jewelry Tab

This year is shaping up to be a costly one for Rich The Kid. After being hit with a pricey lawsuit by his management company, Rich The Kid is now reportedly being sued over failing to pay for expensive jewelry.

According to TMZ, the rapper is being sued by Peter Marco from Extraordinary Jewels of Beverly Hills. Marco claims the “Plug Walk” rapper left without paying his hefty bill, which was over a quarter of a million dollars.

Per TMZ’s report, Marco has been doing business with Rich for nearly three years. Marco claims he sent Rich his recent jewelry order, which included diamond necklaces, crosses, and even a few Swiss watches that were worth several hundred thousand dollars. For some time, Marco was receiving wired payments from Rich for the bling. Eventually, the payments stopped but Rich kept ordering and Marco continued to deliver. Now, Rich has racked up a bill of over $234,000 and Marco is suing for what he’s owed.

After news of the lawsuit circulated, Rich addressed the reports on Twitter, calling it “fake news.”

If Rich is in fact being sued by Marco, this wouldn’t be the first lawsuit that he has faced this year. In February, the rapper’s management company, Blueprint Artist Management, filed a lawsuit against Rich that claimed he owed them money. According to the documents, the management company said Rich had not paid them in over three years and now owes them a whopping $3.5 million in unpaid fees.

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Major League Baseball Reportedly Has An 82-Game Season Proposal That Would Start In July

While UFC and NASCAR are making their returns this month and the PGA Tour has its plans in place for a June restart, the major team sports are having a much more difficult and complicated time working out the details of a return. The NBPA had a call with Adam Silver recently in which he prepared them for various possibilities, including no fans in stadiums stretching until a vaccine is in place and offering little in the way of certainty about finishing this season.

Major League Baseball is having similar conversations, but has the added issue of figuring out compensation for players as owners push for a revenue split dictating how much players make this season — something not in the MLB CBA. According to the Associated Press, MLB owners have agreed on a proposal that they will pitch to the MLBPA on Tuesday that would bring baseball back in July, with a spring training period taking place in June, and teams would play divisional opponents and interleague matchups with their regional counterparts in an 82-game season.

Major League Baseball owners gave the go-ahead Monday to making a proposal to the players’ union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans, a plan that envisioned expanding the designated hitter to the National League for 2020.

Each team would play about 82 regular-season games: against opponents in its own division plus interleague matchups limited to AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West. Postseason play would be expanded from 10 clubs to 14 by doubling wild cards in each league to four.

The AP reports owners are pushing for a 50-50 revenue split, something the union has pushed back on and would prefer to go with the current agreement that will have players receive the percentage of their salaries based on the percentage of the 162-game season that gets played. There are also concerns from players about testing and protocols for positive tests, something the owners plan reportedly addresses but details are not currently known.

The proposal also includes adding designated hitters to the National League, as well as expanding rosters to 30 and adding a “practice squad” of sorts to mitigate the loss of minor league players as the minor league season is not part of this plan.

It will be fascinating to see what the players are willing to agree to and what the details on where games will be played — at home ballparks or at spring training sites in Arizona and Florida — and surely other leagues like the NBA and NHL will be keeping an eye on how this baseball proposal is received by the players as they work out their own plans.

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Drake Bell Revisited His “The Amanda Show” Character, Totally Kyle, And I’m Totally Nostalgic

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Ken Jennings Explained How ‘Jeopardy!’ Has Changed Trivia For The Better

Ken Jennings may be the best person to talk to about trivia in America, and how the show that made him famous has made its mark on the genre. The Jeopardy! GOAT won a million dollars earlier in 2020 by knocking off James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter in the Greatest Of All Time Tournament and has spent the months since putting the finishing touches on his new trivia board game, Half Truth.

Inevitably, Jennings is forever tied to the syndicated trivia game show that made him a household name in 2004 when he won 74 straight episodes and first set the record for the most earnings in show history. Last week, Jeopardy! aired his first appearance on the show in an attempt to bridge the gap between reruns now that the show is unable to tape. It’s a fun bit of nostalgia, but one that Jennings hopes does not need to cover the entirety of his run on regular Jeopardy!

“I hope that the shutdown does not last 74 more weeknights, that would really be terrible if they had time to do my whole run,” Jennings said in March. “I’d hope for America’s sake it does not come to that.”

The rest of the week featured replays of the GOAT tournament which Jennings joked was the last good thing to happen in 2020. But the trivia ace had plenty to say about how trivia has changed in the better because of Jeopardy! In writing questions for Half Truth, for example, Jennings had the difficult task of figuring out what questions are hard and what things most people know.

“I write for high school and college quiz bowl events, and you have to have a sense of what these kids already know, what they knew last time and if you do enough of it,” Jennings said. “You start to see the outlines of it like ‘this one’s hard but fair, this one’s just going to annoy people because they’ve never heard of it.’”

Quiz bowl is one thing, Jennings said, that because of its structure allows a question-maker a general framework for the content that people may already know. Writing Half Truth was a challenge because that structure wasn’t there, but knowing how those traditional formats impact what people know is an important part of the process.

“You have to have an idea in your head of not only what you know, you have to have a separate sense of what the culture’s trivia canon is,” he said. “In the same sense that a college course would have a philosophy canon. Or a poetry canon. We have to have some baseline trivia canon. And if you write a lot in this field, which I do, you do have a sense of it.”

Aside from Half Truth, Jennings has a quiz email he writes and has books about the genre as well, one of which actually inspired Magic the Gathering creator and board game designer Richard Garfield to reach out and pitch what became Half Truth. But Jennings said he owes Jeopardy! a great deal, starting with his notoriety but also what it’s done to trivia in general and what it’s changed about what people more commonly know.

Jeopardy! has really shaped what Americans know, and it’s kind of self-perpetuating thing,” he said. “If Jeopardy! asks too much about Opera or the bible or whatever, that stuff stays in the trivia canon longer than it would otherwise.”

In creating Half Truth he spoke fondly of the trivia revival he grew up during — the return of Jeopardy! to syndication and the boom of trivia board games — and how that that influenced the many other versions of trivia that have come in the decades since.

“If you were an 80s kid, that mid-80s period where Jeopardy! came back on the air and then everyone got Trivial Pursuit for Christmas — that was huge for a kind of a geeky 10-year-old boy like me,” Jennings said.

Whether Half Truth can do the same to the genre right now remains unknown, but it’s clear the thought behind its creation will keep it interesting for trivia fans looking for that attention to detail.

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Deadpool Creator Rob Liefeld Thinks Marvel’s Next Wolverine Should Be… Hugh Jackman?

Comics creator Rob Liefeld has never shied away from sharing his thoughts no matter how controversial or admittedly wrong they might be, and he’s staying true to form when it comes to Marvel recasting Wolverine.

In a new interview with Inverse, the Deadpool creator was asked for his thoughts on who should play the iconic clawed mutant when the X-Men are eventually rebooted for their MCU debut. Turns out Liefeld thinks there’s only one person who should portray Wolverine on the big screen, and it’s… Hugh Jackman. To qualify his remarks and reinforce how seriously he cares about the character being done right, Liefeld revealed that he’s so obsessed with Wolverine that it’s the only reason he even created Deadpool in the first place.

“I was only doing Deadpool to get to Wolverine. Like, Wolverine was always the goal. You understand Deadpool. He comes from the Weapon X program. He has a healing factor. He shares a history with Wolverine. Did I not just kind of put the blueprint down and lift it and go, ‘hello,’ and the whole time Marvel’s like, ‘Yeah, Rob, whatever you want. That’s good. Thumbs-up,’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I’m getting to do this.’ So I can’t answer your question about Wolverine. I’m stuck on Hugh Jackman. I hope to god he comes back. I do. You know what? He’s been seriously firm that he is not going to be Wolverine, right? And I foolishly don’t believe him.”

Of course, as Liefeld notes, Jackman has made it repeatedly clear that he’s not returning to the mutant role that rocketed him to superstar fame. While promoting his new movie Bad Education in April, Jackman told The Daily Beast that the party is officially over as far as he and Wolverine are concerned.

“Somebody else will pick it up and run with it,” Jackman said. “It’s too good of a character not to. It’s kind of like, you’re on your way home and your friend rings you and goes, Oh, dude, a new DJ just came on and the music is awesome, are you going to come back? And you say, Sounds good but… no. They’re fine with someone else.”

(Via Inverse)

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A Beginner’s Guide To Using Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land In The Era Of COVID-19

“Your public lands, our public lands — this belongs to all of us.”

That simple message, which sounds like a modified version of the iconic Woody Guthrie song “This Land Is Your Land”, was shared with me by Ryan Callaghan when he took over as Director of Conservation for MeatEater. Stepping into a new role in a pre-COVID world, Callaghan, an avid outdoorsman and backcountry guide, was charged with helping people embrace wild spaces as part of their everyday lives. He’s a hunter and fisherman, yes, but above all things, he’s a person who just wants us all to get outside.

With the COVID-19 keeping us (mostly) homebound and adding a whole range of considerations to any thought of air travel, getting outside certainly seems like the most viable way to see the world right now. Public gathering spaces are going to be closed for quite a while. Events and concerts are on hold. Museums are only digital (and are likely to see visitor caps when they do open). Meanwhile, “active recreation” permits for public lands have allowed a stir-crazy populace to finally move their bodies again.

Though it’s easy to forget, there are 247.3 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-controlled wild spaces in this country. That’s a fair bit of elbow room in the time of social distancing. If you’re the type who wants to exert your freedoms, BLM land is the place to do it (while being safe and considerate). If you’re wary of seeing others or want to get away from a world gone mad, BLM land’s got you. In this new era, it’s perhaps the best/ safest/ most-reasonable way to scratch that travel and adventure itch in the coming months without venturing too far from home or recklessly endangering yourself or others.

Here’s a beginner’s guide for anyone thinking about a first-trip into BLM land.

What Exactly Is BLM Land Anyway?

You’ve probably heard “BLM Land” thrown around by hardcore outdoorsy types a fair bit. Besides being a legit designation for certain parts of the country, it’s also a bit of a cool kids term these days. In short, BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management and is a federal body under the Department of Interior that oversees all the public land in the United States.

That includes accessible land across each U.S. State. Generally speaking, these comprise:

  • 221 Wilderness Areas
  • 27 National Monuments
  • 636 National Conservation Lands
  • 2,400 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers
  • 6,000 miles of Historic and National Trails

It’s a vast network of land that’s held by all of us for use by all of us. But, as you can see, “BLM Land” isn’t a single thing. Which leads us to…

Don’t Expect A Single Set Of Rules For All Public Lands

While embracing the publically owned, undeveloped land in our own backyards feels like the best possible option for an adventure this summer, you can’t just show up and expect to do whatever you want. This was very true even before the pandemic. There are rules and fees for access and they can vary greatly and there may be new rules to help with social distancing or COVID-precautions.

“Wilderness can still be highly restricted in how you use it,” Callaghan tells us. “Still, if you’re willing to hike in, you’ll be shocked at just how much access you can have.”

It may sound counterintuitive, given how much we’ve said about these lands being ours to use, but certain sections of BLM land are leased out to cattle ranchers, while other parts are mineral or oil extraction sites. Is that wonderful news for the planet? Probably not. But it is the present reality, so… if you want to go mountain biking or find the perfect swimming hole you need to do the research to see where exactly that is and isn’t allowed.

For what it’s worth, the BLM does a fairly good job helping people figure out which activities are viable in which locations. There’s a whole section on their site for mountain biking riding. The same goes for caving and off-road vehicles. We understand that this feels like a lot of information to manage, but Callaghan puts it this way, “Each spot is unique and they all kind of have their own set of rules, so it’s kind of hard to talk about them in bulk.”

Obviously, a national forest in upstate New York is going to be a wholly different experience than a national forest in, say, Idaho’s backcountry where wolves, lions, and bears roam. Expect different rules to apply.

Research What’s Available Around You

“The reality is the bulk of my recreation — which I get a lot of — is really, really, really close to home,” Callaghan notes. This can be true for you too, even if you live in a big city.

The best advice is to do the research first. Where can you go? Where can you camp? Where can you swim? Where can you get food or access to a toilet? These are all valid questions that you should consider and find answers to before setting off.

The BLM website has basic information on camping rules on public land. Learn them. But to actually pinpoint the place to go to fit your needs/ desires — like a campground, trailhead, or even just a vista — head to Simply enter your town and a map will pop up with everything available around you (as seen above). From there, you can get pricing for campgrounds, points of interest near you, and most of the information you’ll need to plan anything from a day trip to a weekend to a multi-week getaway.

Just a note, campgrounds will have different rules, amenities, and prices across the board. There are also plenty of free camping areas for those willing to pack in and pack out all their gear. Considering that BLM land is truly more “wild” than US National Parks, the bar for being fully researched and prepared is higher.

Learn The Safety Rules Of Where You’re Going And Follow Those Rules

Anastasia Petrova, Unsplash

This is probably the most important aspect of using BLM lands. There are a lot of things to consider if you’re camping, hiking, climbing, cave diving, or just taking a stroll without rangers on duty. Again, the BLM website does a good job of breaking down important regulations and considerations. They cover everything from fire, river, and cave safety to water issues, hypothermia, dealing with snakes, and even what cellphone coverage to expect. Check out the “Know Before You Go” section of their site and absorb as much information as you can.

It’s important to know what flora and fauna are present in the area you plan to visit as well. No one wants to wander into a poison ivy patch or get woken up by a hungry bear. Moreover, have a solid plan for water. Do not expect to be able to draw water from streams or lakes without some sort of purification system.

A great place to find real-world information about using BLM land is Backcountry Hunters & Anglers communities. They have chapters all over the country and offer expert guidance on embracing the great outdoors while also leaning heavily into the conservation of those spaces.

Take It Slow

Julian Bialowas, Unsplash

“I think that we have to do a little bit better job about being realistic and celebrating just getting out,” Callaghan says. “It’s not necessarily these grand adventures all the time. A lot of my wilderness experiences are less than a mile into the wilderness.”

You don’t need to climb a mountain the first time you go onto BLM land. It’s totally fine to just do a day hike to a lake or stream, drop a line in the water, and pack it in before sunset.

The point is, it’s okay to stay close to your comfort zone on your first few outings. Test the waters, see where your lines in the sand are with regards to comfort, and go from there. No one should rush you into doing anything in the wilderness that you’re not ready for. Just getting out there and breathing the clean air, surrounded by trees, can be enough to leave you feeling alive and invigorated.

Consider Getting A Pass Or Entering A Lottery

Kalen Emsley, Unsplash

Yes, public land is open to everyone but you also can’t just walk into some places. An annual recreation pass generally gives you access to national parks and federal lands, campsites, trails, and more. They only cost $80 per year (they’re free for military and ex-military families) and make accessing a huge swath of public land much easier.

The passes are currently suspended due to the pandemic but are likely to be reissued as restrictions ease. When that does happen, you can get a pass from the USGS.

As we mentioned, there are sites under BLM control that do have restricted access. That means you’ll need a permit that sometimes those permits are tied to a yearly lottery. This covers everything from river access to canyons with a delicate natural balance that needs to be protected to ancient archeological sites to dangerous areas that you shouldn’t be walking into unless you truly know what you’re doing. You can find a list of restricted access lands on the BLM website.

Know What You Need To Bring And Leave No Trace

Adrian, Unsplash

This seems pretty obvious. Still, plan ahead.

You’re going to need to bring food, water, and supplies in with you — even if it’s just for a day hike. Know what you need and make sure you don’t forget it at home. A good rule is to be a little more prepared than the situation demands. If you’re going to camp along a river with clearly marked trails, a few miles off the highway, you probably don’t need a satellite phone, but you should have some basic directional skills and compass knowledge. If you’re planning on starting a fire, even a small one, knowledge of fire safety protocols are a must. The phrase “just in case” is an important consideration here.

Also, it should go without saying, but don’t leave any waste. Bury your feces at least six inches deep, 200 feet from a water source. Pack out your trash, please.

Lastly, do not remove any artifacts from public lands (or anything else for that matter). Many monuments, forests, deserts, and parks contain ancient Indigenous American sites that are sacred to locals today. Sometimes those sites will be whole abandoned towns. Sometimes they’ll be rock walls covered in ancient petroglyphs. You’re not Indiana Jones. Admire. Take photos. Show respect. Don’t touch. Move on.

Keep An Open Mind

Robson Hatsukami, Unsplash

Finally, Callaghan notes that “you don’t know who you’re going to bump into out there, from whatever walk of life.” Depending on where you are and what season it is, you could run into folks hunting, fishing, riding mountain bikes, horseback riding, birding, mushroom picking, or just hanging out and drinking a beer or two. A lot of people use our public lands for a lot of reasons. All of them are valid, as long as the rules are being followed for that area.

Here’s where the “your public lands, our public lands — this belongs to all of us” quote comes to bear. Your political/ social ideology or level of outdoorsiness doesn’t give you a better claim to a single inch of BLM land than anyone else. And without a heavy ranger presence, you’ll need to navigate certain situations calmly.

In short, be considerate and compassionate, or simply don’t go. Just like in the case of the pandemic, we’re in this together.

On the flip side, keep an open mind to just how wonderful of an experience BLM land can be. Maybe you realize you don’t need a tour guide every time you leave home. Maybe you connect to new activities that change how you relate to the planet in general. Maybe you find a piece of yourself out there in the wild spaces that you’d never encountered before and grow as a result.

The truth is, COVID is going to shape our world for a long time. Everything is different now, including the way we spend our recreation hours. The opportunity to connect with wild spaces in a way that doesn’t endanger yourself or others while also opening the door to new adventures might just be one of the few silver linings of that fact.