Big news from Patagonia (the place, not the brand…)
Tompkins Conservation…you might not know the name, but they are one of the most important forces in conservation today. It is brainchild of Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face and later, Esprit. Tompkins bought over 2 million acres of wild land in Patagonian Chile, with the idea of preserving it. His vision took another step forward recently with the creation of Patagonia and Pumalin National Parks.
It’s an important lesson in how conservation happens. What many people do not realize is that the US national park system was not built simply through government action. It was a combination of federal legislation, commercial interests (such as railroads in search of paying tourists) grass roots support of private citizens that brought the parks system into existence. We have a national parks system today because people at every level of american life, public and private, wanted it and willed it to be so; and the forces that opposed them (basically the same people doing so today) couldn’t stop the tidal wave. Tompkins put his own money and time where his mouth is; he didn’t just talk about preservation. He acted.
Tompkins died of hypothermia in 2015 while kayaking in Chile on the very lands he loved at the age of 72. His legacy remains alive through these amazing land grants, and through the work of his widow, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, who IS in fact the former CEO of Patagonia.
Part of Tompins vision, by the way, was to have top notch recreational infrastructure in his parks to maximize enjoyment and thus increase awareness of the need to preserve these remarkable lands…IE, a lot of hiking opportunities. We can’t wait to visit and experience it for ourselves!