Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Stewardship in Action: Ginger Woolley

Ginger Woolley

President, Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance

Ginger Grand Voyage 2  How did you become interested in the initiative to preserve Rock Canyon?

I’ve been hiking Rock Canyon for more than forty years, generally 5 – 7 days a week, summer and winter. Over the decades, I have witnessed how this one canyon, so accessible to our urban community, has drawn people from all walks of life, people of all ages and income brackets. They come to recreate in a variety of ways – hiking, climbing, mountain biking, winter trekking, etc. Teachers and students gather to study botany, geology, biology, and even art in the perfect outdoor classroom.

The majesty of Squaw Peak beckons and inspires from afar. You leave your vehicle in the trailhead parking lot, walking just ten minutes and then you’re beyond the canyon rock ‘gates’, with a 360-degree view of the surrounding cliffs. There’s not a trace of the man-made world in sight. Now, THAT is something worth preserving. Not just for me or for other users, but for our children who will deserve an ‘urban forest’ and the inspiration that it offers.

What have you learned about environmental stewardship in your work?

It requires open dialogue and a collaborative effort between all invested stakeholders ~ the users, the citizen’s group, the local government, the Forest Service, etc. Seeing the issues from various angles is important when coming around the table.

Christmas (Small)

I’ve also learned that providing hard facts rather than emotional pleas is the more effective strategy when attempting to sway policy makers. A few years ago, a graduate student in Environmental Sciences wanted to help with our cause. We suggested that she film recreational usage of Rock Canyon over a 24-hour period. She perched the camera on the front cliffs and documented the number of users as she created the video. After editing the results and double-checking her numbers, she provided us with digital proof that there were 952 Rock Canyon users in just one day. That was valuable information to share with lawmakers.

When we wanted a ban on bonfires in the mouth of the canyon, we brought the Forest Service a poster with 31 photos verifying 31 areas which had been scarred and trashed from 31 fires . . . and accompanying activities. That poster said far more than words. Hard data.

Backpaking

Why is environmental stewardship important to you?

It makes me feel like I’m doing something of long-term value. For my livelihood, I ran a child care center, overseeing a staff of fifty who were responsible for the day-to-day care of young children. That was good work, investing in children. I feel the same way about environmental stewardship. It’s also an investment in the future – for our children’s children and for the many species who depend on our willingness to care wisely, and finally, to the earth itself.

How does the Gospel affect how you think about the environment?

Knowing that this earth is the physical manifestation of God’s creative handiwork, how could I NOT be an environmentalist? As I see it, earth stewardship is a basic, meaningful way to show our respect for what God has given us.

Add to that, the gospel teaches us to serve. Not just to wear a badge and preach, but to put your hand to the plowshare and not look back. When it comes to our air, water, and land, there are some critical ways we could all dig in and serve. One doesn’t have to look far.

What is one message you would like to convey to members of the Church about stewardship?

It’s myopic for us to consider our children to be our primary stewardship without making every effort to care for the earth which will be their real inheritance.

To find out more about what Ginger has been doing with the Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance, click here.

This is the third of a series of profiles of Church members that exemplify stewardship in some aspect of their lives.  We hope to show the diverse and wonderful ways that Church members show respect and wise use of the earth’s resources.  If you would like to suggest someone to highlight in the future, let us know