Defenders View

Defenders President Jamie Rappaport Clark, © Krista Schlyer

I especially enjoy this issue of Defenders each year because we profile the wonderful photographers who have generously shared their pictures with us through our photo contest. Not only are the images spectacular, but often the back stories give us a vivid sense of place and make us feel like we, too, were right there. 

My husband and son are avid photographers, so I know what it takes to get a great shot: patience! But it also takes passion and a love and knowledge of your subject matter, whether it is an intimate moment among three wolves or a stunning view high above the Grand Canyon.

When we see beautiful pictures and experience nature first hand, it commits us to that animal, that plant, that place forever. That commitment is why we are such a strong voice for wildlife and the diverse and magnificent landscapes and habitat we all love. Sadly, some in our country don’t have that same commitment. Many of our elected officials are in the pockets of Big Oil and mining and logging companies, putting our air, water, wildlife and lands in jeopardy. 

As I write, more than 30 bills and amendments are pending that would destroy our nation’s environmental safety net for imperiled species: the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These proposals run from efforts to block new listings of imperiled wildlife that needs protection to attempts to remove protection from already listed species. One bill would automatically remove protections for all species on the endangered species list after five years whether they were recovered or not. Another proposal would delist almost half of the species currently protected under the ESA. 

Our opponents might have the money to influence our elected officials. But we have the passion, the knowledge and the people power to move this country down the right path to a sustainable future, one that supports the conservation of our rich wildlife resources and the spellbinding places we have seen with our own eyes and through the lens of a camera. The power of these experiences and images are stronger than the cynical misinformation and spin from a Big Oil lobbyist since, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So keep taking and sharing pictures of wildlife and their habitat. Their future depends upon you. 

Jamie Rappaport Clark, President

More Articles from Summer 2015

Bison highway, © Paul Shea
Get a closer look at the stories behind the winning images and photographers from Defenders’ annual photo contest.
Butterfly, © Karen Anderson
Insects and weeds 
overrunning your garden might make you want to grab pesticides and start spraying, but for the health and safety of living creatures and the environment, it’s best to keep your hand off the nozzle.
Grizzly bears, © Robbie George/National Geographic Creative
With only a handful of grizzly bears left in the Northwest, actions are finally underway to restore a healthy population to the North Cascades region in Washington, one of the largest contiguous undeveloped areas in the lower 48 states.