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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Eli Francovich: Appreciate, invest in our natural spaces as Spokane grows

Liberty Lake as seen on Oct. 26, 2019. To the right is Mount Spokane. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Liberty Lake as seen on Oct. 26, 2019. To the right is Mount Spokane. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)

I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and the United States, visiting places famed for their natural beauty.

I’ve hiked in Nepal, gone scuba diving in Cuba, surfed in Spain and cycled the West Coast of the United States. All invaluable and inspiring experiences, and yet the local beauty of the place I call home continues to take the cake in its own quiet and unassuming way.

I was reminded of this on a recent hike in Liberty Lake. The fall colors, interspersed with a dusting of snow, provided the kind of beautiful stillness some travel far to find. For us in the Northwest, and the Spokane region specifically, it’s a common pleasure. One that risks being forgotten if not consciously appreciated.

Prior to becoming the outdoor editor nearly two years ago, the natural beauty of our home was an appreciated amenity, albeit one I’d given little thought. I did not wonder, why, for instance, Mount Spokane has such a comprehensive and enjoyable trail network. It did not cross my mind that Big Rock could have been something much different – a housing development or a private playground, for instance.

All of which underscores the fact that these places we hold dear are there because of the foresight, hard work and in some cases bravery, of dedicated conservationists, volunteers, inspired politicians and policy makers.

These outcomes were not preordained.

And we still have to make the choice, every day, month and year, to protect and value the wild and natural spaces that do still exist. Washington is growing. Spokane is growing. That cannot, and should not be stopped. But the needs of humans must be balanced with the needs of the land – for our own happiness and well-being and for the animals that live alongside us.

In a world dominated by BIG NEWS, whether its impeachment hearings, global climate change, forest fires in the Amazon or plans to colonize Mars, it’s easy to forget that BIG NEWS is created by small news. While this is not an essay praising the virtues of myopia, it’s a reminder that what happens in our backyards – in our home – is just as, if not more, important than what is happening nationally or internationally.

And so I encourage you, dear turkey-stuffed reader, to take a hike/bike/walk/paddle today (or tomorrow) and give thanks to the natural beauty of our shared home.

Then on Monday, consider donating to a local conservation group (or two) of your choice.

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