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Queen of Conservation and Knight of the Green Order

This morning Minneapolis Public Radio interviewed me and Kenyon Fields about The Spine of the Continent. Saving ‘The Spine of the Continent’

Kenyon is Strategy Director for Wildlands Network, the main hub organizing more than 30 NGOs to forge protected areas along the Rockies. I would say that Kenyon is my Virgil, if that didn’t make me Dante, but it’s fair enough to say that the conservation world he guided me through has a lot in common with the concentric circles of h-e-double-toothpicks and is indeed its own Divine Comedy. Kenyon is one of the dashing young men of conservation, kind of an outdoorsy-scholarly type, and he has a serious weakness for gorgeous blondes. I met him at a wilderness conference in Berkeley, and it was pouring rain. He was heading to Utah, to go camping by himself. I said, “but it’s snowing there.” He said, “I can’t wait.” Seems if you burrow in the snow properly it’s quite warm– right.

And Wendy Francis is Executive Director of Yellowstone to Yukon. This last month she won major recognition from the Wilburforce Foundation. She also just won the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal—wow! (Y2Y is headquartered in Canada.) Francis is a petite firecracker nature-saver, and she has been at this game for decades. The world of conservation has historically been as sexist and masculine-dominated as the harder sciences, and among Francis’s many achievements are her persistence through those particular concentric circles. Y2Y is the most fully achieved part of the Spine of the Continent. A note of interest is that Karsten Heuer, who physically trekked the Y2Y region and wrote a best-selling book about it, Walking the Big Wild, is becoming president of Y2Y in January. He’s a biologist by training but his day job is pretty much successful writer. This meeting up of the literary and the ecological has the potential to help widen the context of what saving nature is all about.

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