Voices: A Sense of Insight

Los Padres Forest Watch: Jeff Kuyper


If you want someone to care, they need to make a connection. Advocates for
the fight against climate change chose the polar bear as their spokesperson because our hearts can connect with the images, the concept of the bear’s plight. Even though most of us live over 1,000 miles from the nearest polar bear, we can care about a somewhat ‘technical’ issue like climate change by connecting with these iconic creatures.

The same principal applies in our own back yard. People need a sense
of connection to a place in order to care about it. For this reason we as an organization work to help bring that connection to as many people as we
can. By organizing volunteer activities throughout the year we are able to
bring people onto their public lands, areas that often are overlooked even though they make up the backdrop of our every trip to the grocery store,
walk along the beach, and passage along the 101 Freeway.

Los Padres National Forest protects over 1,000 miles of rivers and streams,
and provides habitat for 468 species of wildlife and over 1,200 plant species,
but those are just facts and figures. It takes the smell of manzanita on a summer night or the cold water of the Sisquoc seeping through your hiking boots to make the shift from logical reasoning to active caring.

  Forest Scene  

Once someone has helped clean the trash-riddled trailhead that a California condor flies over, or spent a hot day tearing down relic barbed wire fencing so
that pronghorn antelope can roam the Carrizo Plain, they get it. You have a supporter of the protection of public lands for life. We work continuously to build these supporters and to deepen their connections with the wild. Seven-year-old Casey, a seasoned ForestWatch volunteer, sums it up: “I love the wilderness; it’s like nature’s playground.”

Jeff Kuyper is Executive Director of Los Padres Forest Watch.