10/19/2011 04:31 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2011

The Spirt of Conservation Is Alive and Well Among Land Trusts

The spirit of conservation is alive and well!

There are many reasons to go to the Land Trust Alliance Rally, the annual gathering of local conservationists from across the country. At the top of my list is always the chance to charge my batteries with the energy that's thrown off by more than a thousand people committed to protecting the special places across America that serve as habitat for plants and animals -- and people.

This year's rally in Milwaukee was no exception. There was a strong turnout of land conservationists, who, despite the impact of economic recession and persistent political paralysis, continue to optimistically and passionately work to protect the lands that people love in their communities.

More and more, those in the land conservation movement are recognizing the importance of nature in our cities -- the value of healthy human habitat for those who don't have a close to home place to connect with nature. Being cut off from nature is bad for people -- and bad for nature. Because without that connection and a relationship with nature -- one that goes beyond consuming her resources - the question becomes how we will live sustainably and better steward Earth's finite resources.

The people who attend the LTA Rally always remind us of the wonderful range of the connection between people and nature: Some organizations focus on protecting the places where plants and animals live; others focus on protecting farm and ranch land on the edge of our metropolitan communities; some work to protect wilderness; others work to protect land in the suburbs; and in our cities, we see community gardeners who are growing produce on vacant land.

We are at a critical moment in the conservation movement, and I had the good fortune to call upon the conservation leaders to do more -- to stretch their already strained capacity and seek out connections in our cities to better connect our communities to nature, and to lend their vital skills, leadership, and passion to communities seeking more parks, more trails, more gardens -- more connections to nature and to each other.

We have a lot of work to do, and in a tough time. Next year's rally will be in Salt Lake City. I'm sure by that time I'll need a re-charge.