omething shifted at Grand Canyon a couple weeks back. For a fraction
of a second, the whole scene moved over about a quarter of an inch.
Kim Crumbo, after 20 years with Grand Canyon National Park, carried
books, gear, and writings out of his office behind the Grand Canyon
Clinic over to his home on Ponderosa. The earth's crust, momentarily
unloaded, settled into a new equilibrium.
Yes, it's true, on September 30th, Crumbo officially retired
from the National Park Service. Throughout these years at Grand
Canyon, he has held to one goalprotecting Grand Canyon Wilderness.
What we know best of his work are his 'resource' trips, working
with mobs of volunteers on trails, camps, and non-native plants;
we know a uniquely Crumbo quality that makes volunteers and friends
rush back to run with him again; and we know his stance, decidedly
unpopular in some circles, against motorized recreation in the Canyon.
Less known is that Crumbo's work stands within the larger context
of the National Wilderness Preservation System and biodiversity
conservation. The Wilderness Act was conceived by others of his
ilk, agency staff who foresaw the incremental loss of our natural
heritage and the diminishment of the human spirit through unlimited
industrialization. Protecting wild nature means maintaining all
the animals and plants of Grand Canyon, along with their habitats,
and natural processes like fire and flooding. Wilderness management
today calls for understanding the needs and workings of ecosystemsfor
ecosystem conservation. I know this because of Crumbo. So does the
staff of Grand Canyon National Park. It's written into Park
plans: protect and restore all native species in their natural
patterns of abundance and distribution because Crumbo put
in the words, borrowed from conservation biology. If we are vigilant,
and keep up the work to make science and conservation a part of
Park decisions, Crumbo may leave a legacy that includes bighorn
sheep and mountain lion together with solitude, risk, and our souls'
Crumbo, unleashed, will be working with the Southwest Forest Alliance
on the Arizona Wilderness campaign, and with the Grand Canyon Wildlands
Council, a conservation biology-based group he cofounded in 1996.
Until he figures out his new computer, you can reach him at email@example.com.