“Opal Creek means an awakening to nature. A special place where people have fallen in love with the environment, so in love they want to save it.”—Alexa, Reynolds Learning Academy student
For me the holiday season is always a time of reflection and excitement; reflection on the past year and excitement for what the next year will bring. This season in Jawbone Flats marked my 9th, 9 seasons of working to ensure that people get the chance to experience the wilderness of Opal Creek, that kids get their hands dirty and cold as they search for aquatic insects in our crystal clear streams, that someone gets to experience the magic of the meadow on a dark night with no moon. I do the work I do to help people engage with wilderness and understand why it is fundamentally vital to our existence.
This year our programs in Jawbone saw more students than ever before and while I don’t have a count, my gut tells me that more and more people are parking at the gate and hiking in to check out this magic area called “Opal Creek” every year. It is working, more and more people are engaging with wilderness. This can only be a good thing.
I often think about the many, many years that people have worked hard on behalf of our special mining town and the forest that surrounds. The job we have is mighty, and it takes a village. There are those who spend a season or two living among the tall trees, those who support us with volunteer service on our board of directors and through other volunteer opportunities, those who work in our Portland office making sure all the behind the scenes details are taken care of, and of course those who fought to save the forest in the first place. I am always filled with tremendous gratitude when thinking about this piece.
Thank you all for your support over the past year and over the past many years. We are doing great things in Jawbone Flats, and we can’t do it without your support. We are helping create a citizenry that cares about the wilderness and our natural world. Through personal experiences in wild places, the relationship deepens even further, and this deeper relationship is what motivates us to make different choices and to support saving places like Opal Creek.
Of the 3,000 or so people who visit Jawbone Flats each year, over 50% of them are children. These children will be adults before we all know it, making decisions about their own actions and the impact they have on the environment as well as voting and influencing our political direction. Climate change is real, and the decisions and actions taken in the next 50 years are going to be vital. These kids need to be informed and need to experience a place like Opal Creek to develop the conviction needed to act.
This is the giving season, and I thank you all who have given to Opal Creek this year in support of our mission. If you haven’t made your gift yet, we need your support. Please join me, and thousands of others through the years, and stand up for wilderness, science, and the future. We cannot do this alone and the time is now.