None of us can claim that our lives are the same as they were two months ago. The abrupt threat and immediacy of action due to the COVID19 crisis has been a game changer for all of us. It is natural during stressful times like these to seek sanctuary – to engage in routine and pursue small comforts to help navigate the bumps in the road that life has thrown at us.
As of late, I have a new found appreciation for the Tortolita Preserve. Like most of us, I have been limiting my exposure to others, and keeping my trips away from home to an absolute minimum. Living adjacent to the Preserve has provided me a place to exercise, relax, and to escape the harsh reality that the pandemic has inflicted. I am so grateful to have an undeveloped space such as this to help me navigate through these difficult times.
I grew up recreating on public lands – those were the places that my family could afford to visit. There we camped, hiked, fished, and explored the natural and cultural wonders. For the last few years, I have sought to help protect the Sonoran public lands around us, through participating in two non-profits charged with the stewardship of these resources – it’s a good cause, and seems like appropriate “payback.”
I am once again reminded that public lands don’t materialize on their own, nor survive without the joint efforts of both government agencies and public participation. There is always the threat that without stewardship, our lands will become an opportunity for short-term profit-taking by unscrupulous agents. It takes the eyes, ears, and commitment of We the People to ensure that what has been set aside, stays that way.
The value of an entity like the Tortolita Alliance is clearer now than ever. The impact on livelihoods due to COVID19 has been as alarming as the tragic loss of lives. Rare, natural jewels like the Tortolita Preserve will no doubt come under economic pressures in the coming months and years. Let's remember that once they are destroyed in the name of economic growth or recovery, they are gone - forever. The vigilance of the Tortolita Alliance, and of the invested members, is a long-term commitment. Nor will it come free – it will take the time, participation, and funding of stakeholders to ensure that the Tortolita Preserve remains an undeveloped asset to our community.
If you too feel that the Tortolita Preserve is an open space worth protecting for the long run, we need your “skin in the game.”