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Protecting Our Natural Environment is One of the Most Important Things We Can Do 

Making Central Oregon a better place to live; Bright ideas for a changing community

click to enlarge COURTESY CASSIE LACY
  • Courtesy Cassie Lacy
I am one of many people who believe the natural environment and access to public lands are some of Central Oregon's greatest assets, and protecting our natural environment is one of the most important things we can do to ensure our region remains this amazing place to live for generations to come.

We must address the climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep our winters snowy, our forests healthy, our air fresh and clear, and our rivers plentiful and wild.

Governments and partner organizations can help, but so can individuals. Governments, for example, can work to improve alternative transportation infrastructure or create incentives for energy-efficient homes.

But as individuals, we need to ride the bus or install new, high-efficiency heaters in our homes, or purchase renewable electricity through our utility. We can get involved professionally or politically, or volunteer for a good cause like a river clean-up.

As a community, we can simultaneously reduce our impact on the environment while addressing some other urgent community challenges, such as affordable housing, by supporting denser housing and expanded transit options.

Protecting our environment does not have to mean keeping things, including our natural spaces, exactly the same. It can be hard to see more people than we are used to on a favorite trail, and it's understandable to feel that the only way to protect the natural environment is to stop all the change.

But let's try not to turn to negativity and fear. Let's try more open-mindedness and flexibility about what our prosperous future looks like and how humans and nature intersect. I hope we can remain appreciative for the beautiful segment of earth that we have and that we're all willing to roll up our sleeves and do the work to keep it that way.

— Cassie Lacy is a senior management analyst working in the city manager's office for the City of Bend.

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