Conserve the land in Wilton, it teaches life lessons

To the Editor:

I have wanted to weigh in on a community conversation that has been happening in Wilton concerning the merits of conserving open space and forested lands.

Having attended close to a dozen town committee meetings that have covered a broad range of issues regarding the positive and perceived negative impacts of land conservation, it is clear that facts alone cannot sway one’s opinion. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share something more personal as to why conserving these untouched lands is so vital to our community.

As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Madison, Wis., there were always plenty of landscaped parks and manicured backyards allocated for our recreation. But as an 8-year-old boy, I remember more than anything yearning for “wilderness” – uncharted land for my friends and I to roam free and allow our imaginations to run wild.

We didn’t have that open space but instead found an abandoned lot. There were just enough trees to obscure the surrounding houses and for countless afternoons, this space provided the untouched landscape we craved. We had momentous Saturday afternoons climbing trees, building forts from fallen limbs and exploring every little turn and hallow we could find. These memories of childhood summers have carried well into my adulthood, having created an intimate relationship and respect for nature. By the time I was 12, I was working on a truck farm picking vegetables and berries, reading Jack London novels on the side, further stoking my love of land and adventure.

Now, as a grown man, I work outdoors growing food and teaching young people to appreciate the beauty of land-stewardship. But more importantly, I get to show my 11-year-old son that a community can come together to preserve his future and that of all the children who will enjoy running through the woods imagining their own great adventures.

My hope is my fellow neighbors will consider the greater gift we can give to all in conserving these lands and the life lesson only nature can teach.