Note: From now on, Monday's letters will be dedicated to environmental issues, as a part of my observance of a weekly earth day.
Dear Mr. President,
When I was young, I loved the outdoors. A childhood friend's father took us hiking as often as he could. We climbed Mt. Pilchuck, camped on the peninsula, and back-packed the first week's worth of the Pacific Crest Trail. On our hikes, he would often talk to us about the importance of nature, and of reverence for the natural world. At the time, she and I were probably more concerned with boys and make-up and keeping our figures, but his lessons have stuck with me as I grew mature enough to understand them. We were never to leave trash, or destroy anything intentionally, disturb wildlife or their habitats if we could help it. Respect for nature would keep us safe, it would teach us things, and it would strengthen our connections to the sacred. We learned how to make and safely extinguish a fire, to pack a bag with enough to survive for a week and still carry, to find good walking sticks and to appreciate the sights and sounds of our surroundings. I am so grateful to have had these experiences, and I regret only that I did not continue these ventures into the natural world as I grew older.
One of the most biologically diverse forests, and one of the last inland rain forests in the United States is not more than a few hours from where I sit, in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. The Carbon River Rainforest is not a protected area, and is threatened by logging and development projects nearby. There is a a campaign lobbying to extend the boundaries of Mt. Rainier national park to include the rainforest. I sincerely hope that the interior department pays close attention to this issue, which is important not only to my state, but to any one who would like to see this fragile ecosystem preserved. Expanding the protection of the National Park to include this area is obviously something that will have to be decided by people who know more than I do about the economic and environmental impacts of such a decision; I just want to express my hope that the former won't be given greater importance than the latter. Yes, jobs and economic growth are important, but we only get one planet and places like the carbon river rainforest are too rare and too important to surrender to the hope of a few more old-economy jobs.
Future generations of children deserve the emotional, educational and spiritual encounters with nature that I was lucky enough to have; if we cannot give them sustainable energy sources, clean air or clean water, preserving what is left of our planet's natural beauty is the least that we owe them.