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Executive Director’s Report, May 2021

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director

I usually get really excited for summer. School’s over. It’s time to spend almost all our time outside. We get a couple of great California road trips. And, just in general, it’s a slower pace of life.

This summer, my excitement is exponentially greater. After a really difficult 15 months, we’re now getting to come back to the world with a newfound appreciation for many of the things we haven’t been able to enjoy in the same ways. We can travel more freely without worrying about local restrictions, community infection rates, or overall public health compliance. It wasn’t that our joy was lost, but we couldn’t embrace it with the same abandon.

The pandemic is far from over, particularly if you don’t live in the developed world, but for the first time in a long time there is an end to the tunnel and we can see the light.

I’ve written a number of times during the pandemic about the importance of natural spaces and the therapeutic power of getting outside for both individuals as well as communities. The newfound understanding of the importance of access to safe and clean natural spaces could change how we think about conservation.

For many of us, our outdoor space, whether a local park or the backcountry, has provided solace and comfort at a time when we needed it most. CalWild has continued our work protecting public lands throughout this pandemic, primarily because we have the support of people like those reading this blog. We deeply appreciate the donors, the activists, and those of you who have sent kind words throughout the pandemic.

More than anything, I wanted to write and let you know how much we are grateful to continue the fight to protect and conserve wild places throughout California. In our mission, we highlight the spiritual renewal provided by public lands. This past year proved that notion not only to be true, but to be an essential piece of our health. When public lands and other natural places are seen as an essential piece of health makes, it makes possible a new path forward for protecting wild places.

I hope each of you has a happy, healthy, and exuberant summer. We’ve earned it. And I hope your plans include some natural spaces, whether they be federal public lands or your regional and local parks. As we mourn the losses and grapple with the difficulties of the past year, we can also embrace and celebrate the things we’ve learned to appreciate: a slower pace, time with friends and family, and new clarity on what matters to each of us in the long term. Thank you again for all your support of our work. Here is to emerging from the pandemic with greater appreciation, humility, and compassion.

Please let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions by emailing me at