- April 13, 2015
- Posted by Amanda G.
There is a theory in conservation that people will take care of what they know and love. The more access that people have to public lands, the more they will begin to take ownership of these shared spaces, and the more they will fight to protect the places that they have come to experience.
Last season as a corps member, I came to realize that this logic doesn’t just apply to place; it applies to people as well. The more we come to know and love our community, the more we will protect and respect our neighbors. The more we come to know and love ourselves, the more we will protect and respect our own person.
Last week, as part of our chainsaw training, we spent three nights living and working at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in the beautiful Paradise Valley. This training is a manifestation of a long-standing partnership between Montana Conservation Corps and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. While we practiced our felling and strengthened our saw skills, we helped to improve the health of the forest by removing Douglas Firs and Junipers from a crowded, dehydrated, and stressed stand. Meanwhile, our presence helped to fulfill the fund’s mission to enhance the quality of life of the surrounding communities through outdoor education, sustainability, and youth empowerment. On a more personal note, our brief time at Mountain Sky provided us with the ideal environment to get to know the Greater Yellowstone, our fellow crew leaders, and ourselves better.
I have neither the words nor the space to properly describe our location during those three days. Stunning. Breathtaking. Dreamlike. Nothing does it justice. Nestled deep into the Gallatin Range, the lodge overlooks Emigrant Peak in the Absaroka Mountains. When we arrived, the forest was topped with a coating of fresh, spring snow. It looked like a post card. As we walked inside for the first time, our eyes welled up with tears and our jaws hit the floor. There was a spacious kitchen with hand crafted cabinets, a tasteful spiral staircase leading to a lofted office, a large fireplace and comfortable wood stove, and two huge windows overlooking the surrounding mountains. This was our home. How did we get so lucky?
We spent our days working as safely and efficiently as possible in order to prove our gratitude to MCC and Mountain Sky. In the evenings, we came together to cook delicious dinners, curl up in front of the fireplace, and talk in the comfort of our temporary home. Each morning, we woke up to the sun rising over the Absaroka mountains and we realized that this wasn’t a dream. This was our reality, and we were all so thankful.
Throughout the season, we will travel to all corners of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We will develop a bond with a crew of folks that is unparalleled by any other work relationship. We will come to test ourselves and expand our abilities in ways we cannot begin to predict. This, too, is our reality.
So if the theory is true and people take care of what they know and love, then here is my hope for the next few months. I hope that we will all continue to work hard for this place we call home. I hope we will continue to foster a positive environment for our crew family and our greater community. And I hope we will continue to experience each day with the appreciation and gratitude it deserves. Conservation is a multifaceted movement, and we have an amazing opportunity to participate in all elements. How did we get so lucky?
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