Letter to the Future: Jay McLaughlin - Columbia Land Trust
"All hands, all lands."

Jay McLaughlin is the executive director at Mt. Adams Resource Stewards, our local partners in the Mount Adams region. 

Mount Adams has been called the forgotten corner of Washington. For those of us that live here or explore its environment regularly, that usually is not a bad thing. To this we owe our dark night skies and the possibility that on our favorite trail we might only see another person or two. To this we owe the presence of intact farms, ranches and working forests that provide local jobs and goods, as well as wildlife habitat, clean water, and idyllic vistas. Forgotten-ness lends itself to wildness, and wildness brings us the bugle of an elk on a crisp September morning, or the rattling, prehistoric-sounding trumpet of the greater sandhill cranes that arrive to nest here in the spring.  As the Pacific Northwest continues to grow its population, we need places like the Mount Adams region.

For this reason, conservation and stewardship of a place like Mount Adams cannot be selective. It should not stop at watershed or ownership boundaries. Nor should it be constrained by political, economic, or cultural differences. It must come from an appreciation for what makes the Mount Adams region special as well as a respect for its inhabitants, ecology and inner workings. It should pair the best in local knowledge with the best available science, empowering local landowners and managers to lead in stewarding a landscape they know best.

As we look forward 25 years, this need will only grow. As Mount Adams’ glaciers shrink and rivers change; as forests are increasingly threatened by a changing climate, megafires and bark beetles; and as more and more people seek their own Mount Adams experience; Mount Adams communities must be center stage in stewarding this place that is our home. Whether it is our loggers or ranchers, tribal members or county officials, business folk or school teachers, we all have a role to play that will require, more than anything, cooperation. For those of us that work on forestry issues, we’ve come to call it, “All hands, all lands”. Fortunately, this is the kind of effort exemplified by Columbia Land Trust as they have worked tirelessly to conserve spectacular tracts of the Klickitat River Canyon and dairy farms in the Trout Lake Valley. And thanks to their leadership, I believe that it is possible that my children will continue to enjoy the quality of life that makes Mount Adams so special.

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While you’re at it support Jay’s organization, and our local partners at Mt. Adams Resources Stewards.