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 Thank God Someone Cared
Every time we visit the Giant Redwoods, I feel like crying because of their beauty. They are so tall and majestic that I love being amongst them. The forest where they reside is quiet, peaceful and inspiring and I am sure that if I lived with them for long I would be changed somehow.

Long ago when others saw them for the first time, they saw something different. They saw board feet of timber and had thoughts of getting rich. The redwood forest that once covered two million acres at the turn of the twentieth century (100 years ago), was badly threatened by logging.  Thank God that someone cared. A Save-the Redwoods-League and the State of California worked together to set aside  hundreds of groves to protect them so that we could see them in their native habitat. Wouldn't it be awful if there was just one or two standing somewhere for us to try to imagine the immense forest that once was? That would be like looking at an endangered animal in the zoo rather than being able to see it in its natural habitat. 

We love the national parks and every time we visit one, we again thank God that someone cared enough to fight and protect it. If you have ever been to Yosemite, for example, try to imagine what it would be like if it had not been protected. Who would be living there now? The very rich. And would you be able to see it? Probably not. Maybe it would be like the 17 mile drive in Carmel. That beautiful coast is only available to those who pay to drive it or those who have huge mansions there. 

Did you know that once the white pines trees in Michigan were so dense that a squirrel could go from tree to tree without touching the ground? Did you also know that now there is only one virgin stand of the trees left and thank God someone cared to protect that. In other areas like the sand dunes along Lake Michigan, where it was clear cut for the timber, the top soil disappeared and all that was left was sand. Nothing can grow there now. 

Even when natural resources are protected they are in danger. We remember walking a nature trail in New Mexico one summer and reading all of the little signs posted by each plant, tree or bush. To our shock we came upon a woman on her hands and knees cutting pieces of several different bushes and putting them in a little bag. She wasn't a park employee. I said, "If everyone did that there wouldn't be anything left." Her response was simply, "So!" 

There are things that we almost lost. The bison for one. Imagine that once there were thousands and thousands of them roaming the plains. The Native Americans didn't kill them off; blood thirsty white men did that and mostly for the thrill of the kill. They left them where they fell. Perhaps it is our nature to take and take and keep on taking, but I for one am glad that someone cared to save them. But now the greed of those who like to ride snowmobiles threatens them again. Why do they have to ride those machines in the national park? There is plenty of other land in that area to play on. I will probably get emails from those of you who are advocates of the snowmobiles in the parks, but since I won't change my mind save yourself the trouble.

Did you ever hear the story of Easter Island? It has always fascinated me. Located in the South Pacific Ocean, about 3700 km (about 2300 mi) west of the Chilean coast scholars and archaeologists have been trying to make sense out of the statues located on the shores. First of all they wondered how they were built and moved and why many had been toppled and destroyed. One belief is that settlement of Easter Island took place about 18 centuries ago and at the time the island was covered with thick forests. The inhabitants cut trees to make their shelters and planted gardens. They had plenty of wood and food and life was good so they built the statues to their God in thanks. They kept using the land and didn't replenish it and when the crops weren't producing and there were no more trees, they blamed the Gods and knocked over the statues. Eventually the people broke into small groups and began  fighting with each other. In essence the population becameextinct as well as the natural resources. 

I love the new credit card ad that shows families enjoying the national parks. There is so much to experience from seashores to dense forests to volcanoes to reefs. And I hope that when you visit a national park the next time you will take a moment to thank God that someone cared to preserve it.

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