My name is Jessica, I like to take walks in the woods. I was born in an Illinois river valley & I currently live the mountainside, I have always kept close to nature's heart even the few years I lived in Chicago. It is definitely not wisdom; but age, political climate & desire to thrive have taught me it is important to support what you love. For me, it is the mountains & trees that bring me peace.
Beginning May 1st, I will take the next 30 days to hike the 500 miles / 800 kilometers from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrénées to the end of the world, Cape Finisterre, in Galicia, Spain. This is more commonly known as the [el] Camino de Santiago.
Public Lands Matter
My goal with this pilgrimage is to spread awareness & financially assist a government sector that everyone from every country, political affiliation & personal background has enjoyed at some point in their lives: Our parks, the environmental beauty & visual history from where we come.
I feel like I have taken our public lands for granted, much longer than I care to admit. I have enjoyed hiking, running, climbing & enjoying lands from all around the world without much thought or perspective as to what my life would be like without them. Only recently have I had a wakeup call that the national parks, mountains & historical sites I have enjoyed for the last 27 years are a privilege, but a not a right.
This year started off with a loss of conservation protection in the USA, resulting in the resignation of over 90% of our National Park Service Board as protest over legislation. The current administration has expanded oil & gas drilling that put our land in National Parks are at risk, but the most alarming from my personal perspective is the largest reversal of national monument protections in American history that prompted the #MonumentalMistake campaign.
It seems only fitting that a pilgrimage should have more meaning than just being a thru-hiker, but personal atonement for neglecting the terrain I have loved. I have selected to support The Conservation Fund, an environmental conservation program with an international outreach that focuses on a range of environmental issues from National Park preservation to sustainable farming to urban planning.
A donation of less than $1 per mile could show your support of preserving public parks & landscape, it is a small gesture towards a debt we all have to land we have enjoyed. Here are just a few projects from the 3,000 that could benefit from your dollar:
- Cleaning up e-coli contamination in Lake Michigan so everyone can enjoy the beaches again
- Funding the Norwegian Research Counsel in their development of sustainable aquaculture systems for Atlantic Salmon
- Honoring Harriet Tubman's legacy through the continued development of the Undergriund Railroad National Historical Park
- Promoting women in agriculture & resolutions "food deserts"
- Providing environmental education & safe green spaces for urban youth
- Keeping National Parks open to the public
- Protecting Native American rights to ancestral land
It is an American non-profit that pursues environmental conservation & sustainable economic development. TCF has saved over 7.8 billion acres of land & water in the USA alone; including national parks, historical battlefields & wildlife areas. Their conservation projects consist of 10 categories, ranging from urban conservation to sustainable farming to wildlife rehabilitation. TCF is most active in North America; but they have water conservation projects in the Middle East, South America & Northern Europe as well.
I support The Conservation Fund because they've shown they care by dedicated of their budget to conservation projects, it is given a 98% score by Charity Navigator for transparency & program outreach.
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“We can have wilderness without freedom; we can have wilderness without human life at all, but we cannot have freedom without wilderness, we cannot have freedom without leagues of open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but their own desires and abilities, free from any and all direct administration by their fellow men.” -Edward Abbey