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Executive Director’s Report, December 2021

By Chris Morrill, Executive Director

2021 was supposed to be the end of this pandemic. Most of us reveled in what seemed to be the last vestiges of it earlier this summer. I reveled in the joy of seeing all the anxiety and fear begin to lift.

That hope was crushed. With the Omicron variant emerging and another wave likely around the corner, it is hard not to despair. For many of us fear and anxiety is returning, and we have less energy to deal with it after two years.

The good news is that we have more clear strategies to handle this than we did two years ago. Maybe not mentally as we are all so exhausted by the restrictions and the complications of navigating everyday life, however, there are two clear conclusions about my own mental and physical health which I think apply to all of us.

The first, as I’ve written before, access to and time in nature is an essential piece of our well-being. Parks and public lands were flooded with people early-on in the pandemic as one of the few recreation activities still open. Getting outside, whether it’s long hikes in remote areas or just to local green space, provided the mental relief we desperately needed.

The second is how important human connection is. There was more discussion early in the pandemic about social distancing versus physical distancing. We know now that isolation had huge impacts on our mental health. It was with our loved ones that we could cope with all the challenges that were, and continue to be, thrown our way.

I’ll be taking these two things and packaging them into my new year’s resolution: to get outside with friends and family more. I know what each of those provide me, and hope you can do the same.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and nature-filled holiday season. Talk to you in the new year.

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