A Letter from Tim
“People protect what they love.” – Jacques Cousteau
In 2016, I bought a rowboat. I now travel in my 14-foot Whitehall whenever I can. In addition to enjoying the exercise, I’ve found that the act of pulling oars through saltwater reconnects me with my childhood love for this place.
In late September, following a vigorous dinner conversation on an outer island, I said farewell to my hosts—members of our Tiptop League—and pushed my little boat into a moonless, ink-black night. Still energized by the discussion, my thoughts drifted towards that ubiquitous Jacques Cousteau quote (above). After decades of essentially locking up land (“collecting museum pieces,” someone said), the Preservation Trust is now committed to connecting people with our places. The logic is pretty simple: Despite the breakneck pace of our acquisition program, the day will come when there are fewer priority properties left to protect. To ensure that the places we are protecting today are cared for in perpetuity, it will be crucial for islanders to appreciate that land conservation is essential to their quality of life.
Or, to paraphrase Cousteau, people won’t protect what they don’t know.
As I continued to row home in the dark stillness of that evening, a loud blast of air from the water on my port side startled me out of my thoughts. I cast a flashlight in the direction of the noise and there, reflected in the beam just beyond the tip of my oar, were a dozen troubled eyes. A family of harbor seals had swum out to investigate me. As we silently contemplated each other, it occurred to me that these beautiful animals had just launched their mission from a remote beach that the Preservation Trust had recently purchased specifically to provide them with a safe sanctuary.
You’re going to hear more in the coming year about our efforts to connect people with the places that you, as a member of the Preservation Trust, have helped to conserve. If it is true that people protect what they love, then my wish for 2017 is that you, too, will fall in love with a family of harbor seals. Just like the family I met on that magical evening.
This is a good time to be a member of the San Juan Preservation Trust.
With gratitude from the islands,