FARE THEE WELL!
On this day we probably speak with a bit of Van Morrison’s “Inarticulate speech of the heart.”
On this day we say farewell!
After a great deal of thought, we have decided the High Uintas Preservation Council can offer no more hope, guidance or wild voice. Fifteen years and there is simply no more left. Many of you probably have wondered why your membership renewal didn’t arrive. We stopped all membership renewals (our sole source of funds) in December 2009. The organization will formally close its active history in December 2010.
To all of our good friends and members all we can do is say thank you and hope your heart stirs at least a little, knowing just how heartfelt that thank you is intended.
The reasons are many and have absolutely nothing to do with our support--you--or finances. Neither flickered or waned during these tough days, yet another reason to offer a hearty thanks!
I started with The Wilderness Society way back in the day for almost four years as the Utah Regional Representative, then 17 years with the Utah Wilderness Association (what heady days!), and the last 15 with HUPC. All I actually ever aspired to be was a full-time seasonal wilderness ranger with the Forest Service, so I exceeded my expectations and made far, far less money! But, as Thomas Merton has wisely written, “...riches I love not at all.”
Of late, the environmental/conservation movement has just left me behind. It is a vastly different movement with a deeply different psychology, different expectations and engaged in a very different manner than was my experience. Conversation is not expected nor sought. Little blobs of light filter through now and again but we have been unable to shed that light on a hopeful path. And clearly the Forest Service is content with dimness:
A Wild and Scenic River decision that was meaningless, an Ashley forest travel plan that, without apology, openly embraced only motorized users, timber harvesting in the name of pine beetles or fire prevention, domestic grazing offered as an ecological necessity--all of these we have documented over and over again. Now the Ashley proposes mechanical removal of pinyon, juniper and other conifers for bighorn sheep in the Flaming Gorge area and the use of helicopters to dump poisons into some High Uintas Wilderness lakes! (Read on.) There is simply no room for a measured or collaborative approach.
We are simply not real players.
It is also a movement built upon a highly technical/ cyber-electronic model. And try as I might, I just can’t get my hands on or head around it. I’m still hooked on a walk, a topo map and pencil. What happened and what was wrong with slides and a slide projector?
I live in Cache Valley and it is just too far from the Uintas to get there on a meaningful and regular basis. Conservation to me has to be a first person experience. And it just isn't. For whatever reasons, board members feel the same--we just aren’t out there enough and it has affected our organizational psychology. Issues become distant and matters of policy, rather than personal.
There are other things as well. We have and always have had phenomenal board members (and have lost to the cosmos two of them over the last couple of years--Sean Kearney and Art Roscoe). But at the same time, we’ve simply not been able to find new board members. When we held them, our events and workshops were sparsely attended. Our rendezvous continues to miniaturize and age. We seem unable to change these dynamics.
The first ten years were hopeful, the last few tenuous. We seemed unable to find our voice or keep it.
In the end a person pushing and pulling this kind of an organization has got to believe our voices are more than simple bearing witness. I can no longer get over that barrier. Bearing witness may be all we can really do and may be the most important thing we can do, but it can’t be the impetus for an organization like HUPC.
So, keep it simple, thank you over and over, again and again. Let’s hope wildness can find its footing.