My dear dear friend Michael Soulé left this beloved life and our one planet Earth on June 17th, a week ago Wednesday. His impact on my life was like a planetary body that swung close and shifted my orbit around the Sun. Along the way, he taught me the conservation ecology of love and the power of joy to save wild nature—even the silly, mischievous, yes-you-are-alive kind of joy that arrives each evening after a good day of whitewater, and springs up each morning with the cascading tremolo of a canyon wren at first light.
“I have always loved, and will always love, wild nature: Plants and animals. Places that are still intact. Though others might avoid the word, I insist that we talk about “love” in conservation, because we only protect what we love. The reason we act when something threatens our family or our neighborhood is because we love these people and places. Maybe it takes a tangible threat to our home environment to make us realize that we really do love the earth.”Michael Soulé in a 2018 interview in The Sun magazine.
Wild Arizona is rooted in the rich and sometimes irksome soil of Michael’s ecological studies, the science of Conservation Biology he fathered, his passion for new ideas, and the organizations he co-founded with other leading scientists and wilderness advocates. Our colleague John Davis, wildways explorer and Executive Director of The Rewilding Institute knows this story well and has written a fine tribute to Michael Soulé titled Immortalizing Michael Soulé.
“The first time I met Michael Soule, he was the dean of conservation biology. The second time, he was a frog…John Davis, The Rewilding Institute
“That first meeting was the founding of North American Wilderness Recovery, from which Wildlands Network and The Rewilding Institute evolved. Michael was a giant among giants at that inaugural meeting; and I (as the junior founding member, both intellectually and chronologically) listened in awe as he and Dave Foreman, Reed Noss, and other wilderness leaders explained to our host and sponsor, Doug Tompkins, how North American wildlife could be saved and restored…
“In any case, my clearest memory from that distant campfire is everyone rolling in laughter as Michael, with his Elven features, hopped around, imitating and telling us of some rare frog he’d found on a research trip years prior. I’ll never forget the twinkle in his eyes and the mischievously warm smile as he hopped past…
“Immortality is best achieved, I trust Michael would agree, through permanent protection of wildlands and their wild denizens. I propose we honor and immortalize Michael Soule by finishing the Spine of the Continent Wildway – which he proposed as the flagship for a National Conservation Corridors campaign …along the Rocky Mountains and restore the top predators, including Gray Wolf, Grizzly Bear, and Puma, throughout. This we should be able to accomplish by 2030, in keeping with the popular Half Earth goal of protecting at least 30% of Earth’s lands and waters by 2030 and at least 50% by 2050.
Three of our Wild Arizona board members, Kim Crumbo, Kim Vacariu, and GIS mapping specialist Kurt Menke also spent many years working alongside, influenced, and inspired by Michael Soulé and his vision. We miss him so very much.
With love for life on Earth,
Kelly, Kim C., Kim V., Kurt, and the Wild Arizona crew
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