“As I have settled into my position with Partners and life in Escalante, a question has risen in my mind: Why am I here? The past eight months, that question has been largely subconscious, below the surface, answered satisfactorily by the anxiousness and adrenaline of moving, the promise of newness and adventure in a distant land, and the rush of meetings and deadlines. But in posing the question to myself, tangibly this time, I realize that the reason why I’m here has nothing to do with newness or adventure.

Some of my earliest memories are on public lands. From a state park campfire with Boy Scouts, a mossy timber bridge in the Adirondack backcountry, or an alpine crag above a sea of clouds, these are places that have molded and guided me, and remain where I feel the most at home as anywhere on Earth.

So I know. The answer is obvious. I am here because public lands have given so much to me, and it is the least I can do. I give my time and energy to protect the wildness and wonder of Grand Staircase, and to show appreciation and gratitude for the foresight that led us to preserve places like it in the first place. I need just step out my door to mountains and slickrock, the hushed rustle of autumn leaves, or the twinkle of stars in an endless sky to find the answer, again and again.”

– Kevin Berend, Conservation Programs Manager for Partners

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