Those Who Protect Wild Places

Guides of wilderness rites of passage programs can’t just take people into beautiful, pristine forests, deserts, and mountains whenever and wherever they want to. They have to deal with permits, applications, and regulations from such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and the Bureau of Land Management, the owners or caretakers of those places. Some people regard these federal or corporate agencies as enemies and the requirements as nuisances. But as this story shows, a spirit of cooperation offers surprises and gifts.
A friend of mine recently arrived in the wilderness area of California* where she has been guiding programs for many years. Shortly afterwards, three Forest Service firefighters drove up in truck. They checked to be sure she was the person who had filled out the permit they carried and informed her that two forest fires were burning on opposite sides of her base camp. They told her that the fires did not pose any immediate danger and assured her that, if conditions changed, they would personally come to make sure that she and her participants were safely evacuated.
Then they revealed something else. They said that they had been working diligently to protect that particular area because many generations of a species of endangered raptor had been nesting there.
This encounter offers several insights:
  1. 1.   Government officials who work in wilderness areas probably love those places as much as those of us who seek out wilderness for its contemplative or spiritual nourishment.
  2. 2.   When we work with these agencies not with an attitude of disdain but one of cooperation, it tends to be reciprocated.
  3. 3.   Firefighters working in wilderness areas are not focused simply on protecting a piece of property, they are also dedicated to the animals and birds who live there…
  4. 4.   and to other people who love those places and take care of them in their own way.
* The Forest Service has requested that my friend not reveal the exact location.
— Trebbe Johnson

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Forest Fire Design: Vector Stock

MORE RADICAL JOY REVEALED

  • Sunyu Kim QKrrfTi Ikw Unsplash

GIFT OF THE MAGPIE

This blog usually features stories about finding and making beauty in the hurt places of the Earth. But sometimes the hurt places are in us humans-and nature, both spoiled and splendid, can offer gifts of [...]

  • IMG 2282

A More Permanent Gift of Beauty

Usually, the kind of beauty or art that we make in Radical Joy for Hard Times practices is ephemeral, spontaneous, and not meant to last. We create it out of materials we find at a [...]

  • IMG 0198

Giving Voice to Heart

When we approach a damaged place for the first time, we often feel anxious. We worry that our grief about what has happened to this river, this wetland, this old neighborhood will be so overwhelming [...]

More Revealed

SUBSCRIBE

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

2019-09-29T15:10:23-07:00
This website uses cookies and third party services. See our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information. Settings Ok

Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics to track your path through our website. To assist in protecting your privacy, we anonymize the last 4 of the IP address.

Tracking Cookies

To monitor and help enhance your visit while on the website.

Host Accounts

We offer a individuals private member access as Hosts when they register. We offer Host newsletters and the ability to manage Earth Exchange Events & Stories that Hosts will author and help manage. We ask for basic information from Hosts to join. We additionally ask the Host to provide detailed information about their events and preparations. This includes images and narratives about their event and any Stories told about the Exchange Events hosted.