The Human/Nature Connection: Legacy

Essay by Deborah Kidd, marketing manager; Photos by Cameron Karsten

When we see nature as a part of who we are, we are inspired to protect it. Only when we take care of nature, can we reap its greatest rewards. The ways in which we prize and conserve our environment define the legacy we will leave.

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Horses, dirtbikes, quiet trails and a rushing river fill a ranger’s day in Riverside Park just outside Spokane. His shift sees moments of solitary reflection and conversations with daytrippers. At times he skirts the periphery, keeping close watch on the rules that keep the park safe and rewarding for a range of visitors. His protects nature by building relationships through by a shared commitment to this cityside treasure.

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A starter gun sounds and paddles slice the sea in synchronicity. Teams of tribal members launch cedar canoes much the same as mariners set out centuries before. These wooden vessels are central to Washington’s coastal tribes—for fishing, hunting, building connections with coastal neighbors. Today’s canoe races span generations and genders, bringing competition to age-old communion with the tides. Friends and family cheer from the shore, their voices carrying far across the water.

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Thorny cactus, dry sage and stark plateaus are not the lush green and deep blue we often conjure when reflecting on natural treasures. But for many, the shrublands situated mid-state are precious. Once comprising more than one-third of Washington, much of the historic shrub-steppe, along with its flora and fauna, is gone. Dedication to this underdog landscape brings volunteers out on a dry May morning, to help recover a land preserve scarred by wildfire and nurse this harsh habitat back to health.

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Winter settles in the Yakima Valley, and Rocky Mountain elk migrate in search of shrubs. Deep in the valley, farmers’ fields tempt with cold-weather crops and fallow fruit trees. Biologists keep the herds from venturing too close, though, providing plenty of hay at sites along the slopes. On neighboring Cleman Mountain, they feed California Bighorn sheep. Both herds are transplants, introduced to re-populate Washington’s wilderness. Efforts today protect not only the animals’ future but the valley’s agriculture too.

Several steps straight up, out the hatch and suddenly—above. Prairies below and turbines all around. An engineer ascends to service and maintain silent giants that draw power from the very air. With a vantage atop a windmill, he sees the morning sky transform through pink and blue. At the intersection of technology and conservation—where people and nature connect—he helps safeguard our future, as clean energy powers thousands of homes.