Thank goodness the election is finally over. I heard the term “election stress disorder” this fall and it immediately resonated with me and many others I know. Part of the stress for me related to the continuous news cycle and overwhelmingly negative tone of the presidential race this year. But there also is a deeper anxiety emerging in our country around the obvious economic and social divides that were laid bare by the election.

It seems to me that the conservation of parks and farms and open space could provide a bridge across some of the divides that our nation faces. At the political level, both Democrats and Republicans have storied traditions in conservation from Republican Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of the National Park system to Democratic President Obama’s creation of the Arctic Marine Sanctuary. In our communities, parks are the melting pots where we all come together to celebrate, recreate, and participate with each other, forming critical community bonds. And at a personal level, I believe we all have a deep need for access to land and nature and elbow room in an increasingly urbanized world.

As our new leaders take office at all levels, encourage them to support parks, nature preserves and open space. Think of Roosevelt’s foresight in starting the National Park System. We need that foresight now on the Eastern Shore and in our communities. These public spaces are critical infrastructure to be secured now for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. God blessed America with beautiful and verdant lands and waters and wildlife. And God Blessed the Eastern Shore even more so with terrific soils and a deep heritage of communities committed to the future of this beautiful place. Please join me in encouraging our leaders to create new conservation legacies.

Rob Etgen

Executive Director, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy