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Presidents Report: Choices

Posted by Margaret Ullman at Jun 15, 2017 05:51 PM |
‘It’s not by chance, it’s by choice.’ The mantra of the Greenway’s founding leaders still rings true today.
Presidents Report: Choices

Our region's future is determined by our choices now

By Kurt Fraese, Outgoing Greenway Trust Board President

‘It’s not by chance, it’s by choice.’ The mantra of the Greenway’s founding leaders still rings true today.

It wasn’t random chance or good luck that led our region to stand out as a model for balance between growing, thriving communities and conserved, beautiful, accessible natural lands. The secret was, and continues to be, thoughtful decisions and compromises made by many caring citizens, community leaders, government agencies, and businesses who have worked together to prioritize a shared vision for the future over convenience and short-term gain.

We must continue to acknowledge the economic and societal value that our surrounding open spaces provide, and work to keep our natural lands resilient in the face of rising population and climate change, as public resources struggle to address the related challenges.

The need is now, more than ever. Debates continue about the value of public lands, the need to fund outdoor recreation and habitat restoration, and the role of government in taking care of our shared open spaces. The choices we make today will have ramifications for years to come. It’s up to us all to speak up for what we value.

The Greenway Trust plays a pivotal role–speaking up for state budget priorities, speaking up for public lands, speaking up for cooperation as a means of getting good things done.

Our voice is different than other organizations because the way we work is different.

Choices are not strictly either-or, win-lose. Rather, we believe that balance and compromise can reveal common ground and mutual interests that can be served. We are positive, pragmatic, and inclusive, which makes us trusted and impactful as a convener of diverse interests and steward of lasting collaborations.

We’ve always spoken up for key issues affecting the landscape and our relationships with it. During the previous legislative session, we advocated for and secured vital funding for outdoor recreation, conservation, and active transportation that was sorely needed to catch up with demand.

We’re doing it again this legislature: Greenway supporters spoke up to protect recreational funding and legislators took note. We know the circumstances are difficult this year because of demands for public education and mental health funding. But it’s not either-or. Investments in public lands and recreational infrastructure also contribute broadly to quality of life through outdoor education and demonstrable mental and physical health benefits.

As I wrap up my tenure as Board President, I’m more confident than ever that the Greenway Trust will continue to lead our region in meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that present themselves at the dynamic crossroads of our natural environments and human enterprises. There is a delicate balance at these intersections.

We are committed to efforts that make intelligent choices in preserving the intrinsic value of the natural beauty that surrounds us, while sustaining healthy environments. What is so special about the natural landscapes we call home, the proximity, the access, the inspiration, must not be there just for us. We must be caretakers and guardians of this resource, and do our part to ensure that it is passed on for the enjoyment of many generations to come.

It has been a privilege to serve. I am excited to introduce Tod McDonald, our incoming Board President who will take over the reins and help steer us further on the Greenway’s journey. Welcome, Tod!

 

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