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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Call to Conserve

There are many reasons to travel, and gratitude is one of them. Our family spent some time out west this summer, camping through places like the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Oregon Coast and the Colorado Rockies.  It is not hard to feel awe and gratitude when staring at the Grand Tetons.  They are well named. 

But my gratitude was not just for the beauty of God’s world.  It was, and is, for the people who had the foresight and courage to set aside beautiful places for public use.  It couldn’t have been easy.

Often we hear phrases like “preserve for future generations,” and it can sound kind of trite.  On this trip, I was one of those “future generations”, and creating a ruckus in the back seat of our van was the next generation after mine.  Together we were able to sleep under the stars and see grizzly bears and hike to mountain lakes because a bunch of people many years ago fought to keep that land available for people like me. 

It is easy to think that you have to be a millionaire to help conserve nature for future generations.  But as Tom Butler reminds us in his book, Wildlands Philanthropy, there are many ways to help.  He writes, “The collective annual memberships to conservation organizations have purchased millions of acres. And through those local land trusts, thousands of citizens are working to preserve natural areas in their own communities.” 

Thank you to all of you—living and dead—who have conserved land for future generations.  And a question for myself and others of my generation:  What are we doing to conserve these places of wonder for the kids in the backseat?  

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