James Pinsky: Conservation helps us all

James Pinsky

Hello from Salmon, Idaho!

Relax friends, I haven’t moved. I’m just on vacation in the heart of Idaho’s vast Salmon-Challis National Forest, hunting spring black bears.

Vacation? Aren’t you the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District? So, isn’t every day like a vacation for you? Well, yes. It is. (Hi boss reading my weekly column.) But, there’s no spring black bear season in Virginia, yet. So, here I am.

Well played, Jay, but what’s your “vacation” got to do with conservation and more specifically the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District?

I’m glad you asked! Vacations and conservation, and yes, even the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District, have everything to do with each other. You see I get to vacation in places like the 4.3 million acres of the Salmon-Challis National Forest because people like you helped preserve and protect our natural resources well enough for me to safely and abundantly use them for recreation. President Abraham Lincoln understood. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

So, while some folks yearn to tour great cities, ride cruise ships to hot, sandy, overpopulated beaches or even sleep their lives away in plush, well-staffed resorts to escape reality, I chose to toss all of my modern technological advantages like internet, computers, phones, television and flush toilets away in the name of rest and relaxation. It is the only place I can be at peace with my heart, my soul and my mind. Again, Lincoln understood. “The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains — mountain-dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.”

So, my message to you for this week is if our natural resources can and do mean something to most of us in one way or another, then shouldn’t we all care just as much to conserve them? The answer is yes. Why? William Shakespeare said it best. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”

That same soil the farmer uses to grow the grass to feed his cattle is the same soil hikers need to march up and down the hills of the Shenandoah Valley. That water the farmer needs to keep his livestock healthy is the same water fishermen need to grow trophy bass, and those same trees that help prevent stream bank erosion along the Shenandoah River are also the same trees that serve as hosts for birds, squirrels, and other critters many a nature lover hopes to see when they paddle down the Shenandoah with cameras in hand.

Thus, while a lot of the conservation practices we enable at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District help farmers keep their land rich and fertile so they can grow beef, moo-moo milk machines or green, leafy veggies for our salads; our work also helps hikers, bird watchers, hunters, kayakers, and fishermen enjoy their lives and the land just as much.

So, while I am huffing and puffing along the mountain tops of Idaho looking for black bears, please take a moment to allow this week’s column to remind us that we are all in this together. We here at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District are available to anyone who wants to help conserve, protect and become better educated about the wonderfully rich natural resources we call home. My eager, smart and hugely compassionate co-workers are here to help you protect and improve our soil and water quality regardless of why our natural resources are important to you. So, call us or visit us online at www.lfswcd.org or swing by our Strasburg office and say hello whether you drive a tractor, a Subaru or canoe.

After all, while we all may find different kinds of pleasure from our natural resources, if we let them slip away, we’ll all feel the same pain.

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.