By Ron Newberry
Special to the Whidbey News-Times
Simon Frazer enjoys everything about spending time in nature.
“I love the forest,” he said. “The ambience. The smells.”
Frazer, a Langley resident, hits the trails once a week with his hiking group, known as the Sons of the Beach. He and his fellow club members, who range in age from 58 to 85, will tell you that what they get from being out in nature goes well beyond physical exercise.
“It makes me feel fit and fulfilled,” said Paul Goldfinger, who started the hiking group in 2008. “I can remember one time I was hiking at the tail end of the group with another hiker. We weren’t even talking. We were just so happy to be out in nature on a beautiful day.”
Numerous studies reveal many health benefits from spending time in nature, ranging from reduced stress to better concentration to improved short-term memory. Some doctors advise patients to spend more time outside in natural settings.
“I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, just unplugging from the 21st century as much as I can,” said Mark McCutcheon, a retired National Park Service ranger. “It’s just peace of mind. Being able to slow down and think things out and simplify.”
Nature’s positive impacts on humans add another level of importance to saving natural lands and waters. We need these places to inspire us, reduce stress and sharpen our focus. The Whidbey Camano Land Trust protects and cares for natural areas and open spaces that provide wildlife habitat, local food, scenic vistas and clean water and air. This protection also provides opportunities for people to connect with nature, including trails, beach access, kayak launching, fishing and bird watching.
Few understand this better than Charlotte Ginn. She spent most of her life enjoying the outdoors in Northern California until a work accident left her bound to a wheelchair. Through intensive rehabilitation over the years, she was able to get back on her feet and move around again with the help of a walker.
Ginn moved to Coupeville last year. Her first hiking experience since her accident took place at the Land Trust’s Trillium Community Forest on a trail built to accommodate people with mobility impairments. She went on the Bounty Loop trail for a second time with Janet Hall, a Land Trust board member, to learn about the plants and wildlife.
Ginn soaked in the experience of being out in nature on a beautiful July morning. “I really appreciate the Land Trust,” she said. “You don’t know how much you mean to people like me.”
The Whidbey Camano Land Trust is a nonprofit nature conservation organization that actively involves the community in protecting, restoring and appreciating the important natural habitats and resource lands that support the diversity of life on our islands and in the waters of Puget Sound.
• For more information, visit www.wclt.org, email email@example.com or call 360-222-3310.