Whoa, slow down a minute friend. The first reaction when you see a word like ‘conservation’ is to skip on down to the important stuff, right? We’re here to hike, to have fun, to explore. We’re here to enjoy some time outdoors, to create memories that will remain with our children forever. We’re here to get away from the office and from school because we need time to rejuvenate minds and attitudes. Am I right, or am I right? Why spoil it with a four syllable word like ‘conservation?’ I’ll tell you why. Because conservation is the ‘tie that binds’ and as the old hymn goes, “Blessed be the tie that binds.”
What do we mean by conservation? Think of it this way: a little group called the Benton MacKaye Trail Association spent the last 40 years planning, building, maintaining and then struggling to preserve and improve the work done by our founders. Conservation is sort of our oath of office. Just as a new President is sworn in with the words “… and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend…,” we have an obligation to preserve and protect the trail from actions that may harm its long term health. The trail runs through National Park, National Forest and private lands. We have challenges from all of these ‘land owners’ – challenges that can and do impact the health of the trail. Education can be a big part of conservation: let the public know about threats to the trail. Challenge the public, including scouts, schools and colleges, to be involved in the preservation and protection of the trail corridor. Work with the Forest Service to ensure land use plans are not changed to the detriment of the trail. Find members in our organization with the special skills to help with private land owner interaction. The work never ends.
So enjoy your hike. But remember, our membership ‘preserves, protects and defends’ the trail” … leaving a footpath for generations to follow”. Brother, this is conservation!
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