James Pinsky: Our finest conservationists: how blue helps us all be green

Our greatest conservationists don’t think green, they think blue.

Each week I am humbled and grateful to write to you about the need to conserve and protect our natural resources. I love and adore our forests, rivers, mountains and wildlife. I drive daily from my home in Remington to Strasburg – about 65 miles each way, because I love what I do. I travel quite safely up and down hundreds of miles of Virginia asphalt. I walk and talk freely amongst tens of thousands of people every day and think almost exclusively about conservation. While driving, I usually don’t worry about how safe the roads are. Afoot, I don’t usually wonder if the restaurants I might go to are about to be robbed, or if I might be attacked, unprovoked, as I move from meeting to meeting in Shenandoah County, or the City of Winchester, Front Royal or even going back home near Warrenton, Virginia. No, thanks to the Commonwealth’s finest conservationists, I rise and shine, no matter how daunting my day, knowing I can fight for cleaner water, greener forests and abundant wildlife.

It is, indeed, a charmed life.

I can – we can – follow our passions only because we feel safe. In fact, the truth is we are safe because of the countless men and women across our region who make the conscious choice every day to put our lives before their own. Yes, fellow conservationists, I speak of our law enforcement personnel. Without their sacrifice many of us wouldn’t be around to fight for clean water, hunt or fish for wild game or hike along our gorgeous mountain trails. In fact, if we are to admit the human race is our most precious natural resource, then it is our law enforcement personnel who are our greatest conservationists because they protect us so we can protect the grass, trees and bunnies.

Think about it. From the county sheriff’s deputies who make sure we can shop for dinner in peace, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries conservation officers who make sure we have plenty of bass, bunnies and bears, and the Virginia state troopers who do their best to make sure we get to our environmental events in one piece, none of the good we hope to do for Mother Nature would be possible if it weren’t for the men and women in blue who protect us, often times from ourselves.

We ought not to forget this, even if it means the occasional reminder. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes our police forces all too often like it did last week when Prince William County police officer Ashley M. Guindon lost her life responding to a domestic disturbance. Not only was officer Guindon a police officer, she was also a U.S. Marine, and a true patriot in every sense of the word.

I hope all of you will join me in understanding any work we do to save our planet begins and ends with the ability to protect and save ourselves first. Officer Guindon, and all of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to protect and serve our communities across the United States, deserve the first and most hearty thank you when it comes to saving the world. We can’t speak our minds, rally for cleaner water, hike our forests, hunt, fish, grow our flowers, farm, ride horses, boat or even complain about the traffic without the inner sense of security we have thanks to the constant, selfless service of our local, state and federal police forces. In short, if it weren’t for our human conservationists in blue, there might not be anyone around to think green. So, the next time you see a police officer, remember what his or her presence enables. It’s much more than smooth traffic and a safe walk through town. They enable the very core of American freedom we choose to practice every day by protecting our ability to exercise it in our own communities.

On behalf of everyone here at Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, thank you to the men and women who serve our communities through law enforcement. We can do our jobs because you do yours.

Rest in peace officer Ashley Guindon.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.