We need nature. This parallels a growing sense of disconnection we may feel with each other along with a greater disconnection from nature than ever before. Americans are more anxious and depressed despite advanced mental health treatment and medications that are available.
I grew up on a Midwestern farm with seventy acres, yet still had little interaction with wildlife. Habitat loss, agricultural pesticides and herbicides were threatening common species like eastern bluebirds and robins. I remember the springtime Bobwhite’s call, nearly gone now because of loss of grassland habitat. From college and beyond I lived an urban lifestyle, intuitively seeking a nature connection. When living in Southern California I spent many weekends hiking in the Cuyamaca and Palomar Mountains.
To be an effective wildlife advocate I had to challenge my comfort level, as I realized the painful reality is this—in the U.S. politics controls the laws that protect wildlife, habitat, our public health, and essentially everything environmental. When I had the opportunity to advocate in campaigns to protect Michigan’s wolves from trophy hunting and to stop the shooting of mourning doves, it changed the course of my life and work.
There is much wisdom in the belief that we protect and fight for what we know—that is, what we have made a personal connection with. That doesn’t happen from a TV screen, laptop, or even book. It happens in the natural world.
Fourteen years ago I moved to a new home in the suburbs with nothing but an empty dirt lot. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life, but instead this became a profound life-changing experience. Together my husband and I restored native wildlife habitat on a one-third acre lot, and each year as the native shrubs and trees grow, the biodiversity grows. The Eastern bluebirds that I heard about (but never saw) growing up have nested in my subdivision yard for over ten years.
Always in process, our mission to protect the environment and wildlife is never finished. Change is constant, just as our native landscape needs protection from invasive species, we fight political battles having good days and bad, gaining protections for land and animals only to find how temporary that can be when the political climate changes. We remain hypervigilant as a mountain lion.
I write about wildlife, land, policy, and the activists who work tirelessly to protect our forests, water, soil, public lands, the air we breathe, the dunes we hike, the beaches we love—in Michigan and the Great Lakes. Sometimes I stray beyond to places at-risk that can’t be ignored, as the coastal plain of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
It is through finding balance in coexisting with the glorious web of life that we are a part of and cannot survive without, that we will find healing and contentment.
I hope you will follow my blog at https://www.onewildlife.info/blog