The Muse: Rethinking Conservation - Columbia Land Trust
Community Engagement Manager Rahul Devaskar visits salmon habitat on the Elochoman River.
Community Engagement Manager Rahul Devaskar works on establishing new styles of conservation at the Land Trust

I used to assume conservation was some abstract idea that existed in remote parts of the wilderness, where people like me don’t go—or couldn’t even get to without a hefty supply of rugged camping gear. How wrong I was!  

Altruistic ideas of natural beauty and habitat restoration seem to thrive quite well on paper, but in my first few months as Columbia Land Trust’s engagement program manager, I’ve learned that the beauty of fearless conservation is in action—harnessing shared visions of our future into real change—in all types of spaces, with all types of faces. 

As I gain a deeper understanding of how conservation actually happens, I’m noticing a major theme in this process: relationships within community. It takes trust between neighbors, friends, and even those we think are our foes to craft a shared vision for tomorrow that isn’t an abstract notion but a call to action. The choices organizations and people are making across our region will shape conservation throughout the twenty-first century, inspiring us to recognize new definitions and styles of conservation. 

This issue of Fieldbook explores some wonderful stories about our organization and its relationships. We take a look at how the Land Trust takes action on conservation projects, and how relationships help guide those actions. We see what happens after conservation action has been implemented, and we get a chance to learn how community-centered environmental organizing is redefining what conservation looks like. 

This is just some of what the Land Trust is doing to turn ideas into reality. Join us as we keep moving forward, growing and nurturing our projects and our relationships in the places where we live.

Rahul Devaskar, Community Engagement Manager