Monday, December 23, 2019

Foundation For Sustainable Forests: Loving The Land: The Story Of Thompsons’ Wood In Crawford County

This is the latest installment of Loving the Land from the Foundation for Sustainable Forests--

Connie and Jim Thompson of Williamsburg, Virginia have had a lifetime interest in nature and conservation.
Both were originally from the State of Michigan, where they were born and graduated from high school and college.
Jim was a park ranger there during his undergraduate and graduate school summers.  Connie grew up enjoying camping in the Great Lakes State with her family.
Later in life, both became Master Gardeners and continued to learn about plants and conservation.
A few years ago, Jim reread Wendell Berry’s essay, “A Forest Conservation” in his 2015 book of essays, “Our Only World.”
Jim and Connie were inspired by his story about the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, featuring Troy Firth and Guy Dunkle.
The Thompsons were also inspired by the work of Kris Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia, Inc. who married Douglas Tompkins, founder Of The North Face and Esprit. Together they purchased and donated millions of acres of pristine forestland in Chile and Argentina for use as national parks.
The Tompkins felt that “one should pay rent for living on this wonderful planet.”  The Thompsons agreed wholeheartedly.
Jim and Connie originally decided to buy a few acres in Pennsylvania, build a cabin on it, and eventually donate it to the Foundation for Sustainable Forests.  They had been meeting annually with a group of friends in the Cooksburg, Pennsylvania and loved the area.
When they started looking at properties in northern Pennsylvania online, they became smitten with the beautiful patches of forest.  They then began considering buying more acreage.
The Thompsons subsequently took a trip north to meet with Troy, Guy and Annie to learn more about the FSF, and to look at forest property on the market.
They were taken on a forest walk, and were amazed.  During the walk, Annie picked up a little red eft (a juvenile salamander) and let Jim hold him.  Jim named him Wendell II. In Jim’s mind, Wendell II had just clinched the deal!
The second day of the visit, the Thompsons were shown some of the Foundation’s forests, and then lunched with Jane Wood and Pat Maloney, who provided them a tour of Presque Isle.
Later that night they met with Troy, and Guy and Annie and their families for dinner.  The Thompsons were taken with the sense of family that existed in the organization.
In discussions with their local CPAs, they came to the conclusion that the idea of a cabin was pretty impractical, and thus decided to make a direct cash donation to The Foundation to buy a fifty-five acre parcel adjacent to land they already owned, but which was somewhat land locked.
The Foundation had that property on their wish list for several years.  Guy had subsequent discussions with the property owner, and a fair price was agreed upon.
The closing was on September 12, 2019 at two o’clock.  The Thomspsons participated via Skype and per Guy’s suggestions, celebrated the event together with a champagne toast in both Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Thompsons donated through the Erie Gives Program, who generously added a substantial 5.51 percent bonus to their donation.
After considering several names for the tract, Jim and Connie agreed that Annie Maloney had the best suggestion: Thompsons’ Wood… based on the Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood.
In retrospect, the Thompsons said that it all seemed pretty simple.  Protecting trees that provide us with life-sustaining oxygen and filtering carbon dioxide out of the air is clearly the right thing to do; hence their generous donation to the Foundation for Sustainable Forests.
According to Jim and Connie, “We remain mindful that we, along with a few other billion people, continue to rent space on this beautiful blue and green planet.  Anything, however small, anyone can do to protect trees, is a step in the right direction.”
A quote from Edward Abbey by Kris resonated with the Thompsons: “Sentiment without action is the ruination of the soul.”
Oh, one more thing.  Over forty-nine years ago, Connie and Jim were married out-of-doors in the University of Michigan Arboretum.  
“'Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.” [Alexander Pope-1732]
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Foundation For Sustainable Forests website.  Click Here to support their work.
(Photo: FSF Founder & President Troy Firth with Jim and Connie Thompson; Jim Thompson holding a red eft during a site visit.)

(Reprinted from latest Foundation For Sustainable Forests newsletter.)

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[Posted: December 23, 2019]

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