Donor John DeVore shares some of the experiences that have inspired him to support conservation and The Conservation Fund’s work.
What are those moments that make us most appreciate our parks and preserved land?
Usually it is a view of a magnificent mountain range, or maybe a close up visit to a cascading waterfall, or just being on an isolated path with the knowledge that maybe no one is around for miles, or for at least for one mile. But sometimes it is something as simple as a brief interchange between human and animal that most invigorates us.
One such lasting memory for me occurred during a walk around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The day was cool and somewhat foggy, and the lake trail was taking us through a canopy of trees dripping with moisture. I was beginning to think longingly of the hot cup of coffee awaiting at the lodge, now about an hour’s walk away. The trail was behind the lake by about two hundred yards, roughly half the length of a football field. A side trail branched perpendicularly from our main trail and ran directly to the lake, which could be seen through the trees. Sitting at the lake edge were two lumps side by side looking from the distance like two large black bags of trash. We stopped and gazed at these out of place items wondering what they were when one of them slowly turned its head and stared out way. Beavers!
After just a few seconds, with great serenity, he then turned his head back around and faced the lake. The second beaver turned his head toward the first beaver for a moment as if to say, “It’s them again. Pay no attention. They always leave.” We continued to stand and watch, possibly for as long as five minutes, marveling at how large these creatures were, particularly when observed from the rear. My wife Nancy said, “Beaver butts, I will never think about them the same way again!” and we began to laugh. At that sound, the second beaver again turned his head to the first as if to say, “They are laughing at us again. Pay no attention. They always leave.” And they continued to sit totally immobile, possibly deep in thought about the travails of beaver life in the approaching winter.
Another memorable moment occurred on a trail high in Rocky Mountain National Park . My wife and I emerged from a stand of timber onto a steep rocky expanse. The trail was cut into the cliff face. We surprised a group of grazing mountain goats and found ourselves between the main group above and one young goat below. He began to bleat in fear, so we backed up, and with that he bolted across the trail and up the hill to his parents and friends. It was an indelible moment. There is nothing quite as cute as a fuzzy white baby mountain goat bounding from rock to rock with that unique “click” sound that their hooves make striking rock surfaces.
These are the moments when one realizes the value and importance of conservation. Without the preservation of more of our land to increase the size of existing parks, particularly those close to our growing cities, we humans will miss some of the more enriching experiences possible.