Just in time for National Public Lands Day this Saturday, Sept. 24, the New York Times has published a column so salient that I feel I must share it with those of you who love nature and care about the future of our natural heritage.
When I read Nicholas D. Kristof’s column titled “We’re Rich! (In Nature.)” my heart swelled. His words were as if I had written them myself. This is why I work at The Wilderness Society, I said to myself. I promptly posted the column on my Facebook page.
What really struck a chord with me was the following:
Conservationists need to expand their focus from preserving nature to encouraging the public to experience it. The only way to protect wilderness in the long run is to build a constituency for it, to grow the number of people who revel in camping under the stars (I’m not a fan of tents!), Americans who accept mosquito bites as a cheap price for some of the world’s freshest air.
Kristof went on to describe what Richard Louv termed “nature deficit disorder” – the lack of time children spend in nature these days.
The connection between building new constituencies to love, care and protect wilderness through direct experience and the lack of children outside could not be more noticeable. And for me, it is quite clear: if we do not make an effort to take our children outside for play -- even just to a local neighborhood park or backyard – we will not have wilderness stewards in the future.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, National Public Lands Day, we have the opportunity as a country to set aside time to go outside and celebrate the lands that we all own. It’s a day to take part in a trail maintenance project, or just be outside, if even just 10 minutes.
On National Public Lands Day I’ll be visiting family, including my ten month old niece who I adore immensely. And I’ll be sure to take her out in the backyard or on a local nature trail to celebrate the day and begin instilling in her a love of the great outdoors.
Want to help get kids outdoors this National Public Lands Day or any day?