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Preserving Public Lands For Future Generations With Jeffrey H. Ryan

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Public lands are reserved for everyone’s benefit. Despite this, they are continuously scarred and killed by deforestation and wildfires. If these areas are not conserved properly, the next generations might not even see their true beauty ever again. Joining Corinna Bellizzi is Jeffrey H. Ryan, whose latest book This land Was Saved For You and Me talks about the importance of public land conservation. He highlights in his book the heroes who made a stand to save public lands from total destruction, as well as the nemeses who tried to stop their noble efforts. Jeffrey also discusses the physical and mental benefits of going on a hike and the best ways to support reforestation efforts.

 

About Jeffrey H. Ryan

CMBB 136 | Public LandsJeffrey H. Ryan is passionate about the outdoors and the conservation of public land, whose work has been cited in Forbes, USA Today, Appalachia and other notable publications. He is the author of Appalachian Odyssey (2016) and Blazing Ahead (2017). He lives in Portland, Maine.

 

 

 

Guest LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffryanlinkedin/

Guest Website: https://jeffryanauthor.com

Guest Social: https://www.facebook.com/AppalachianOdyssey, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdOSOIab_d0hNCc98bH0-EQ, https://www.instagram.com/jeff_ryan_author/

Additional Resources Mentioned: https://voicesofthewilderness.com

 

Show Notes:

00:00 – Introduction

02:23 – This Land Was Saved for You and Me

09:34 – Benefits of going on a hike

14:34 – Benjamin Franklin Huff

17:18 – Supporting forest preservation

20:23 – San Vicente Redwood Forest and Mount St. Helens

26:18 – Richard Ballinger and Gifford Pinchot

29:09 – Pride in self-publishing his book

39:21 – Closing Words

 

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Preserving Public Lands For Future Generations With Jeffrey H. Ryan

Back in the fall and winter of 2022, we began a deep dive into the greater stories of our outside world from the share of what pro-forestation means to preserve and protect our planet to explorations of new lands that have been set aside like the San Vicente Redwoods forest. All of this means that we’re working to inspire people to get outdoors, connect with nature, and commune with what it means.

We’re going to continue that journey as we explore America’s public lands with Jeffrey H. Ryan, author of a new book, aptly titled, This Land Was Saved for You and Me. I know. You probably can’t help thinking of the rhyming song itself or the tune of it. In this case, it is a deep dive into how Gifford Pinchot, Frederick Law Olmsted, and a band of foresters rescued America’s public lands.

Jeffrey, the author, is passionate about the outdoors and the conservation of public land. His work has been cited in Forbes, USA Today, Appalachia, and other notable publications. He is the author of two more books, Appalachian Odyssey and Blazing Ahead. He lives in one of my favorite cities in the world, Portland, Maine.

Jeffrey H. Ryan, welcome to the show.

Thank you for your lovely introduction.

I have to put the H in there as many times as possible because otherwise, people go to Google you and they will see a dozen or so Jeffrey Ryans in the world.

Including the one who invented Super Mario.

That one might be trending, too, so that would be harder to emerge from. I want to thank you for setting aside the time and for taking the time to send me an autographed book. Often, I get these directly from the publisher and it won’t have that little word of transcription written in there. You said, “Thanks for all you do. This is with an appreciation for all you do. Jeffrey Ryan.” It meant something to me. I know it may be small, but it goes to show that sometimes, a little John Hancock can make somebody feel very much appreciated.

Thank you.

Let’s talk first about what inspired you to write this book, the journey that you’ve had thus far, and what you can expect to learn as you pick up and read this book’s pages.

Everything led me to this fork in the road or in the trail as it were. The first book was about a 28-year hike on the Appalachian Trail with a friend of mine. We did a different section of the trail every year until we completed it over almost three decades. When I was writing that book, I was compelled to explore how the trail came into being in the first place. That was the impetus for Blazing Ahead.

When I was writing Blazing Ahead, what I found out was the same guy who came up with the idea for the Appalachian Trail, a forester by the name of Benton MacKaye, was involved in the creation of The Wilderness Society and the setting aside of wilderness in America. That started me on the journey of exploring who were the people involved in The Wilderness Society. It had led me backward through time until I found the common thread with our public lands. It began with Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of Central Park.

CMBB 136 | Public Lands
Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery, and the Rivalry That Built the Appalachian Trail

I started doing my own deep dive into conservation history from the aspect of trying to do a finding-your-roots version of American conservation history and finding that so many people and events were intertwined. It led me to naturally want to write this book in a way that the subject has never been delved into before.

You’ve alluded to a couple of things I want to touch back on. First of which, you said you ran a hike and it took you 28 years to complete. I want to know what the longest stretch of that hike was and what you might have learned along the way.

The longest stretch of that hike was seventeen days without a resupply. We were carrying everything that we were going to be eating over that period by design. Over that 28 years plus the hike I did before that from Mexico to Canada in one trip, what you learn are two things that are vital to a happy life. One is being comfortable with your own company and in your own skin. The second is being flexible. You can’t be outside for any length of time without having to adapt to the world around you, the conditions around you, and the weather around you. I draw on that almost every day.

When things are going great, it’s easy. When you hit bumps in the road, how you handle those, there is not a whole lot you can do about it. When you’re out in the rain and walking along, you have a decision. You can hunker down or you can keep walking. That’s applicable to life. When you hit a bump in the road, how you take it and how you respond to it is your choice. Oftentimes, it’s an opportunity to sit back and assess what’s happening in a way that when we’re running around trying to get from here to there, we don’t often do.

When you’ve gone through an experience in hiking as much as I have, it helps me. It reminds me to take that deep breath and say, “The world isn’t falling apart. I got a flat tire. I have a spare in the trunk. I know how to fix this. I’ll be a little late to work.” It’s one of those things that helps you gain a healthy perspective in life.

I have to say. Hearing the tale of somebody taking a hike for a seventeen-day stretch at a time has me a little bit jealous of all the men in the world. I say that simply because as a woman who enjoys the great outdoors a lot and loves to go hiking, I have shied from doing long stretch hikes. It’s because I have this thing called menstruation. As a girl, that’s tough to manage when you’re camping, let alone when you’re out on these long hikes and doing backpacking.

Unless you’re somebody who’s willing to take, let’s say, a birth control pill every day and skip your periods or skip your cycles, if that little inconvenience comes about, they have their smell to worry about. Their predators are going to smell this elevated sense, too, or they’re self-conscious about it. It is probably the one thing that has kept me from doing these longer hikes.

I’m probably coming closer to the day when I will no longer have that problem. I’m 46. Honestly, this is something on my bucket list. I want to go for a multiple-week hike along the Pacific Coast Trail in California. It’s beautiful. I could choose a time of year to do so when it wouldn’t be too terrible and as far as the weather is concerned. Events here on the central coast have me questioning that. It’s almost April 2023 and we had a crazy hailstorm come through here that shredded much of Northern California. I don’t say that lightly.

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Public Lands: It’s almost April 2023, and we had a crazy hailstorm come through here that shredded much of Northern California. It’s not to be taken lightly.

 

It’s interesting you say that because in all the reports I’ve been listening to, they harken back to 1983. It hasn’t been this bad since ‘83. ‘83 was in fact the year when I and two friends did the Mexico to Canada trip and hit those snows. A couple of us have been emailing and texting back and forth about, “It is back 40 years later,” because we hit those snows. We are still, at times, knee-deep and thigh-deep in the snow in Oregon. It was perseverance personified.

It can dump in the Siskiyous. That’s no joke. I grew up in Southern Oregon in a little town called Ashland, so I was quite familiar with the outdoor world there like the Rogue Valley, rivers, and mountains. I didn’t have the ocean the way I have here on the coast of California, but I certainly had plenty of the great outdoors to keep me company.

I love Ashland. That was right on the trail. Mount McLoughlin and all that area up through it is beautiful. 

I always get the name of it wrong, but there are a bunch of lakes that are connected or are on the same trail system. They call them Seven Sisters or something to that effect.

It is the Three Sisters. It is North, South, and middle.

You know better than me. I was thirteen when I moved away from Southern Oregon, so there has been some time.

They have a Shakespeare Festival in town. 

The irony is that I grew up there and never visited it.

That is a reason to go back.

I know. Let’s make this a little bit more real for people. Since you’ve gone from these amazingly long hikes, let’s say they’re not able to spend seventeen days out there, but there are benefits to being outdoors for those long periods. You mentioned that you get this perspective that perhaps it’s your place in the world. What more would you have to share? What do you think they could benefit from even a shorter hike?

Unplugging is number one. Shutting the phone off and being in the moment is a spectacular recharge in and of itself even if it’s for 3 or 4 hours if you go out and do that. Interestingly enough, it’s not a new phenomenon. When Frederick Law Olmsted was advocating for the creation of Yosemite as a park in 1864, he was talking about the regenerative power of scenery and how important it is not only to our well-being mentally and physically. Interestingly enough, he said once we have had that experience, we will always be able to pull it back whenever we need it. We will be able to have that experience refresh us again. What an amazing insight to make in 1864.

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Public Lands: Frederick Law Olmsted believed that once people learn how to harness the regenerative power of public parks, they can always pull it back whenever they need it.

 

It’s anyone who confronts tragedy in their lives or a lot of pain. For instance, I had my wisdom teeth extracted. I had it pulled out when I was already nineteen years old. I had 2 that had started to come out past the rest of the tooth line and then another 2 that were embedded because they never emerged. We took them out all in one session while I was awake.

For the fourth one, they go to crack my jaw. This is surgery. It’s under the skin. The pain meds wore off, so I felt the whole thing. They said, “I’ve given you the limit of how much I can give you in a single setting without running into some risks. Either we pack you up and you go home with a broken tooth in your mouth or we get it out.” I grabbed onto those arms and said, “Let’s do this.”

I went to my favorite beach in my mind and kept saying, almost like a mantra in my head, “I’m spending time with one of my best friends, walking down a 4-mile beach.” The pain was still there and real, but part of my brain in this space was a sanctuary for me. You can have these dramatic moments like that or a moment even where you want to transport yourself to a more peaceful state.

You can close your eyes, open your mind, hear the waves and the birds, and smell the smells. You get that brackish scent in the air. I have a hike I take every day around my neighborhood. I’m very lucky that on one side, I see rolling hills and chaparral with oak trees and cows grazing. The other side of the hill that I’m on is Redwoods Forest. I take this circuitous path that’s probably the shape of a teardrop with my dog every morning.

The furthest point from my doorstep is what I call my meditation spot. I don’t stop there long. It’s like a pause. My dog might go pee, and then I continue on my way because I got things to do. There is this beautiful maple tree there that I call My Friend Maple. There’s a little redwood grove. I pause for a minute and listen to the water going through the creek. I might touch a tree or two and feel like I’ve centered my day and I’m ready for anything.

I know that I’m lucky in being able to do that. Many of us could have the opportunity to do something like that if we integrated it into our daily lives, however small it might be. It’s powerful. Nature is powerful. We’re being reminded even if we take our hikes in the rain. I am known to go out there in my trench coat that goes past my knees with my dog and my coffee cup. It has my trail pass for the San Vicente Redwoods on it. It is to explore a moment in nature even if part of that is walking on paved Earth. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It’s living life at 3 miles an hour. Many of us are so not living at 3 miles an hour and taking the time even if it’s a 20-minute-a-day walk. You don’t have to get in the car and drive somewhere. You can take an urban walk. It’s all beneficial. That time to be unplugged and just be is a reward. I look forward to it every day.

Learn to live life at three mile an hour. Drive somewhere, take an urban walk, and just unplug yourself from the world. Click To Tweet

In your book, you tell the story of little-known heroes. I didn’t know half these names. I was hoping that you could pick perhaps one of them to tell a little bit about their story, perhaps for some odd reason is your favorite.

I have to go with Franklin Benjamin Hough whose parents played an interesting name trick on him. In many ways, I wish they had named him Benjamin Franklin Hough. It would be easier. Franklin Benjamin Hough was a guy who grew up in upstate New York and was from a family of fairly well-to-do means. He went to medical school in Ohio. He practiced medicine for two years. He read a book by a guy named George Perkins Marsh, which interestingly was also written in 1864. It’s called Man and Nature.

CMBB 136 | Public Lands
Man and Nature: Or, Physical Geography As Modified by Human Action

What Marsh had said in the book was that he had observed that man was having a negative impact on the environment, particularly in the form of a clear-cutting forest but in other ways as well. When Hough read this book, it had a profound effect on him. It was so profound, in fact, that he quit his two-year-old growing medical practice to travel throughout the United States and document the species of trees, how they grew, and their preferred environment for growing. It was practically unheard of in the 1880s and 1890s when he was doing this.

He compiled a 600-page book for Congress about how trees grew, what assets we had in the country, how seeds propagated, and on and on it went. He was one of the groundbreaking people behind the forestry movement at a time when the vast majority of people, including the timber barons themselves, thought that forests were inexhaustible. They would keep cutting after all.

At some point, they were thinking they were inexhaustible and they could keep cutting. Oftentimes, they would leave devastated landscapes and unpaid taxes in their wake. It was Hough who was one of these early people on board that was telling everyone who would listen to him that there has to be a better way. He was telling everyone maybe we should start looking at this timber as a resource, not something that’s inexhaustible because we’re going to get into trouble.

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Public Lands: We should start looking at timber as a resource, not something that’s inexhaustible because we’re going to get into trouble.

 

We’ve all seen this play out. Even members of the forestry service will say, “We have to cut down these trees because it’s a fire hazard.” However, they’re taking out the old growth and leaving behind the new growth, which is more of a fire hazard than the trees they took out. There has been this integration with the lumber industry. We see that in particular happening throughout the Pacific Northwest. It has become where much of our logging happens on the West Coast. I wonder if you want to comment on that or if there are ways that perhaps you would encourage our community to get involved or make themselves more aware so that they could also support the preservation of these forests.

There are two different things going on in the forest. There is an eternal struggle between harvesting and sustainable harvesting. We have a recreation that is oftentimes trying to serve different purposes with the land. The third part of it is that we have to have wilderness areas that are untouched, which is the third part of my book.

The way it played out, to backtrack a little bit, is the public parks came first. It was not the national parks, but the state and public parks such as Central Park, Yosemite, and others like that. The managed forests came second and then the national parks. Finally, there was this recognition that we have all these different kinds of parks and managed lands, but we need this third thing, which is wilderness. We need that part protected and left whole. It’s a good thing that that piece was added because, in terms of climate change, we need those wilderness areas more than ever.

We also need, to your earlier point, the forest to be managed in a way that allows the trees to grow old enough to become effective, continue to serve their purpose as effective carbon sinks but also have those generations of trees after them growing to a size large enough. It is so that when those big trees are at the end of their life and need to be harvested or die, they can be harvested. The younger ones can take their place as the carbon sinks. There’s a way to manage the land smarter. We’re getting there. There’s a way to rewild lands that have been cut, are not in the public domain, and can be purchased for the purpose of becoming wilderness and rewilded. There is a lot of that going on in the Northeast.

Wilderness areas are needed to allow trees to grow old enough to serve their purpose as effective carbon sinks and grow large enough to be harvested. Click To Tweet

I have to tell you the story of San Vicente Redwoods Forest as I know it from this opening. What happened is we had several different groups come together and buy out chunks of land that were going to become part of this open trust that would be public lands. It was open to the public to come to hike their trail systems and also set aside land for the wild habitat of the puma or the mountain lion, for instance, which is an important apex predator out here.

We have successfully been able to do that. There’s a long-term plan to connect different trail systems and go through dairy and things like that. However, in the midst of this trail system getting ready for everyone with almost $1 million in preparation spent, we had the forest fires whipped through Santa Cruz Mountains. Many of the trees that made this forest a forest were burned to the ground, becoming cinder. Many of them had to be removed for safety reasons. Out of something 5,000 trees that were assessed, 1,000 had to be removed. That was reducing the count by another 20%.

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Public Lands: In the midst of this trail system getting ready for everyone, with almost $1 million in preparation spent, we had the forest fires whip through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Many of the trees were burned to the ground or had to be removed for safety reasons.

 

We’ve had a new set of storms come through since the trailheads opened in December 2022. I got to be there for a press event that was a prelude to their opening. We had so many more trees fall down or have to be removed that it doesn’t feel like much of a forest anymore. It’s partially because it’s on this ridge line, at least the part where they’ve set aside the trail system.

A lot of the trees were older-growth madrones, some redwoods, and some oak. Since they had been so ravaged by drought, fire, this deluge of water, winds that were 80 to 90 miles an hour, snow, and hail, all of that wasn’t the issue. Amount of water in a short amount of time, we had something like a total of fourteen atmospheric rivers come through California this season. Most of them have hit there. What do you do? 

That’s the devastation that Marsh was talking about in 1864. It’s brutal.

It’s like this land has to be rewilded. It’s more shrub than a tree. I’ve been going about once a month since it opened. Each time, there are more trees lost. Perhaps they were hoping some of those trees were going to come back so they left them out of that 5,000, but they couldn’t take it. They took too much of a beating.

It was too exposed. They have to get beyond the small stage or the sprout stage and get strong enough. They’re battling the odds. That’s harsh.

My hope is that we see the forest recover, but I’m anticipating it being more shrub than a tree for a while.

I have an interesting story about that. I climbed Mount St. Helens the first year it was open after the blast. It was devastating as you can imagine. All you could see was a gray landscape as far as the eye could see. Many years later, I went back. That was a couple of years ago. I did the same climb with the same friends. It was awe-inspiring how Mother Nature came back in the wake of that when you thought it would be like throwing seeds in the bottom of an old wood stove full of ash. There’s no way.

Not only has Mother Nature come back, but come back in a huge way. What’s striking is those old trees, many of them are still standing that were burnt in place. They look like gray flag poles of these Douglas first growing up through the understory, which is starting to take over. You can see the progression. We won’t be able to see that visual for much longer, but it is a marker in time. Here’s what was here and here’s what is coming. It’s inspiring to see that it takes time, but it will and can happen.

In terms of geologic time, that’s a blink of an eye.

The other thing that’s striking is we were hiking along the edge of the boundary of the park and could see the volcanic monument of St. Helens where Mother Nature was allowed to take over. Right at the boundary growing right up to the edge of it is the professionally forested monoculture that has been put in by the forest industry. This is the way it was meant to be, and this is the way it is being force-fed. It’s quite staggering. 

I remember my youth. My father lived in California and my mother still lived in Oregon. We were driving up North through the Siskiyous a couple of times a year at least. I remember seeing how much clear cutting used to take place. Entire mountainsides were laid bare all in Northern California up into Oregon. Thankfully, we’re emerging from that. That doesn’t happen so much anymore.

Thank God. It’s interesting when you say that. We went through a section of Southern Oregon where we could tell how many miles we had done because we’d hit a mile of trail through the forest, a mile through the clear-cut, and then a mile through the forest. It was that checkerboarded at the time. 

I remember that.

It was like, “What are we doing?” Fortunately, that practice has changed.

I wanted to go back to your book for a minute. I realize we talked for a moment about some of the unsung heroes in your book, but there are also some nemeses in here. I’m pointing in particular to the Secretary of the Interior, Richard Ballinger, who became Gifford Pinchot’s nemesis in the public scandal that would cost Pinchot his job. Can you tell that story for our audience?

Yes. It’s really long, but in a nutshell, Ballinger was put into the post and immediately started battling with Pinchot. What ended up happening was some of Pinchot’s minions went to bat for the forestry service and Ballinger was trying to undo them. It blew up in the form of Alaska timberlands. Ballinger was trying to orchestrate the illegal selling of timberlands without anybody knowing to a syndicate of wealthy timber barons. A couple of Pinchot’s proteges got wind of it and spoke to the press about it. The whole thing blew up in a very public kerfuffle. That blew up on the front pages of the newspapers and became a great embarrassment to the president. He asked them to please come to grips with this behind closed doors, but he didn’t know that Pinchot was not going to do that. 

Pinchot made some very public pronouncements against what Ballinger was doing and ended up losing his job because of it. Pinchot didn’t have TR or Teddy Roosevelt protecting him anymore. As soon as Roosevelt’s presidency ended, Pinchot kept acting as if he had carte blanche over the forestry policy. It was like Wile E. Coyote walking out over the cliff.

He fully realized what he was doing. He was trying to advocate for the forestry that the forestry department that he had created. He went a little too far for the comfort level of his bosses. He found himself very unceremoniously fired as the first head of the Forest Service. In typical Pinchot fashion, he went to work the next day, made a speech to his former employees, and got a standing ovation. He then left town to go back to Pennsylvania where he would go on to become a two-time Pennsylvania governor, but it was ugly.

As many things in politics want to be.

It was good that he exposed it. It needed to be.

As it stands, I was hoping I could wrap up part of our conversation and, as we prepare to close this show, hear from you specifically about what you’re most proud of with this book. I know this was quite the undertaking. It came about not as a self-published effort. Many authors are self-published, but this is a publication of Stackpole Books who also reached out to me after we connected about having you on the show. I want to give you the space to talk about that.

Thank you. What I’m most proud of in this book is that I was able to boil down the history of the development of public lands into three important handoffs over 100 years’ time. It starts with Frederick Law Olmsted who was a fantastic figure. He had so many insights that are mind-boggling. It was about the importance of nature and the importance of scenery to our health. It was also becoming the pre-eminent landscape designer in American history, working at the Biltmore Estate, and having the opportunity to give Gifford Pinchot his first job and first chance at showing that forestry was a viable business and that managing forests as opposed to cutting them down willy-nilly was a viable profession.

Pinchot’s own hires, the first foresters, came to the realization that forestry was serving a purpose but we also needed these sacred wilderness areas to become part of our patchwork or part of the American way was essential and a huge uphill battle. Getting the Forest Service established was a major uphill battle, but nothing like creating the wilderness areas. That took decades to get done. It took from 1935 to 1965 to have that take root and become an important part of our public lands mosaic.

What I’m most proud of is researching enough to make that connection, and then making it real. It was through those important people and what they were facing politically and philosophically to try to earn their trust and get other people on board with this way of thinking, which was entirely new in every case. For Olmsted, building a park in the middle of an urban environment in 1858 and some of the thinking that he brought into Central Park in terms of identifying it as a need for urban dwellers to have nature in their midst is mind-blowing. No one was thinking that way back then.

Frankly, it’s what makes New York City livable.

That’s what he said. Not everyone had the means like he did to travel and get to places, but we could certainly make those places accessible to everyone who was already there. For someone to be advocating for that then and having the insight to bring that idea forth was incredible. Another interesting fact about him was in the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, he did the same thing. He created an island in the middle of a World’s Fair that was bustling with tens of thousands of people. He said, “We need to have an island for people to go to and get away from the throngs of people and be able to sit under a tree.” For someone to have that kind of insight in another kind of environment is a pretty neat thing.

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Public Lands: Frederick Law Olmsted created an island in the middle of a World’s Fair. This gave people a chance to get away from bustling crowds and sit under a tree.

 

You’re preaching to the choir here. Something that you also reveal in the story, you talk about the first landscape designers. My father is a landscape architect. Back in the day when he got that degree, how he did that was a double major in Botany and Architecture because they didn’t have the ASLA or the third-party certifications and all that stuff. They’re required to bear the title of ASLA.

As it stands, he used to take me on walks through the forest, point to a tree, and go, “Do you know what kind of tree that is?” I wouldn’t know and we’d talk about it. He would tell me what the genus and the subspecies were and what kind of animals lived in them. My connection to nature from an early age was established with this inquisitive nature and the joy of it from my father’s eyes that I wish every child could grow up with.

What I will say across the board is it’s critically imperative that we get to know where we live. I’m going to say this on behalf of Paul Hawken who I brought on my show to talk about his work, Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation. He said, “If you were to press me on what one thing we could all do to save this planet, to turn around everything and get to a space where we have a global cooling again, it would be to get to know where you live because you don’t. You don’t know where you live, nature, and the history. You don’t know what was there before the street that is there was.”

I’m somebody who studied archeology and anthropology, which I don’t find a mystery at all. If you hear about my background, it’s like, “Okay.” I wanted to understand the history and the thing that came before the written word. I wanted to understand how we were in nature before we had all these constructs around us when we were living with the land and concert with it as opposed to being on top of it and modifying it to bend to our will. That’s what I was curious about. I was curious about what life was like before.

To know where we live is to care about where we live. I live with this quote that Aldo Leopold said, which I’m paraphrasing, “The noblest thing a human being can do is to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.” I think about that a lot. If we all take into account on a daily basis what our impact is, whether we own the piece of land we live on or not, that level of respect and understanding for what we’re doing is critical. It’s critical to both our well-being and our survival.

Perhaps I’m a little bit winging at myself in this natural nature-driven world. The piece of property that we bought where we live in Scotts Valley is at an open space preserve. I love open spaces. The undeveloped part of this land is part of that forest. I’ve simply put a simple goat fencing up to keep my dog in. She has an undeveloped part of the land to be a dog. It is for her to go crazy, dig her dens, do whatever, and bark at the coyotes or the raccoons and whatever.

I also have two old-growth oaks on my property. As somebody who loves oak and who also understands that they don’t necessarily tend to be the most stable because they’ll split off a limb when they get big and old, I chose to cable them. Some of my friends thought I was insane for spending $1,500 or more on oak trees that don’t affect my living space on the property to cable them and provide them with some protection from losing enough of a limb that they’ll end up dying.

I have not regretted it. They’re still standing how many years later. We moved in here in 2009. It is a couple of years later. They’ve withstood the droughts. They’ve withstood the winds and the incredible rain that we’ve had. I’m hoping that they’ll be here and still thriving by the time I pass this mortar coil on. If I can have a little patch that I’m affecting, this little patch, I want it to be healthy.

I extend that into how I garden. I’ve stopped caring about the rodents that tear up my lawn because I’ve only got a little patch anyways. It’s there so my kids can experience grass that’s comfortable to lie on in the shade. I have things like strawberries planted under my plum trees. They’re in the shade, but they get super sweet and nice. They’re ground covers that are more natural and that connect my kids to the food sources that we have.

I’m planting a myriad of different fruiting trees and then things like Amla berry because it’s exotic and you can’t find it locally. I’m creating my own compost to then use in the garden. If we build this connection to not only nature but the food that we procure, understand where it comes from, and work it out a little bit, maybe we’ll change our habits. Also, I will raise my two boys to be more mindful human beings that are building a better future for everybody.

That is wonderful. 

That was my soap box for the day.

That’s good. It’s a good soap box. 

I so appreciate you coming to the show and the work that you do. I do love your writing. I appreciate the stories within it and throwing a nemesis in here and there. We could talk more. It’s a joy. I so thank you for the work.

Thank you for having me on. It was a great conversation. Here’s to getting outside as much as we can.

Let’s get outside. To connect with Jeffrey H. Ryan and get his new book, visit his website JeffRyanAuthor.com. Also, visit CareMoreBeBetter.com and while there, sign up for our newsletter and receive weekly tips with our #BeBetterChallenge. Subscribers also receive a welcome gift. It’s our five-step guide to help unleash your inner activist. If you have feedback or you want to suggest a future show or guest, you can always send me an email note directly from the website or even send me a voicemail by clicking that microphone icon in the bottom right-hand corner.

Before I part, I want to say this. This Land Was Saved for You and Me is a beautiful historical book. It will help you think differently about the world that we’re living behind. I hope you’ll pick it up and enjoy the read as much as I have. Thank you now and always for being a part of this show and this community. Together, we can do so much more. We can care more. We can be better. We can even open our minds with more open spaces and create a better future together. Thank you.

 

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