By Austin Bosworth, American Forests

The men I owe this experience to are William Gladstone Steel and President Theodore Roosevelt. Steel began research expeditions to the park in the 1870s, expeditions that would include topographers, geologists and a half-ton survey boat named the Cleetwood, a vessel carried to the rim and then lowered into the lake to measure its depth and explore Wizard Island. Because of Steel’s research and the lobbying by himself and others, President Roosevelt signed the Park into existence on May 22, 1902. Without this protection, the Park would have undoubtedly been developed with the bottom line in mind, not an accurate representation of the magic that exists there.

That magic had a profound effect on me as a young man, and my desire to protect that magic for the next generation is what brought me here to American Forests. Growing up in Oregon kept me in touch with the outdoors constantly, and hikes up Spencer Butte on the edge of Eugene, my hometown, are some of my first memories. Willamette National Forest to the east holds hidden gems like the Rosary Lakes and Tenas Lakes, accessible only by walking trail.  The Oregon Dunes Recreation Area possesses one of my favorite spots in Oregon, Threemile Lake, which nestles itself within the dunes and serves as home for a family of river otters. In middle school I had the opportunity to embark on a 12-day van trip across Oregon with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. While on that trip, visiting the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and witnessing its stark and simple beauty will forever be a cherished memory, and I hope one day to go back and instill that same awe in my own children.

I work at American Forests with the hope that my efforts protect those miracles of nature’s awesome power that touched me as a child, so as to offer the child that comes after me the same experience. Though my intensity will never compare to the might demonstrated 7,000 years ago by Mount Mazama as it blew its top and became Crater Lake, I fight for our forests and our Parks. I fight because now more than ever, the threat of excesses fossil-fuel development, as well as the movement to transfer public lands to state and private entities, are very real possibilities.