GCRG logo - waves above name with sheep
  BQR ~ Fall 1999

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 goal—protecting 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 ecosystems—for 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' home.
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 wildland@infomagic.com.

Kelly Burke

big horn sheep