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Conservation in the Era of Transformation


Dear Friends,

Time is not linear. Lately, I’ve been sensing this concept in a profound way, and it’s felt very important in relation to our conservation work. But let’s back up… What does that mean?

I’ve heard others say this phrase aloud and thought it sounded a bit woo-woo, but also intriguing. Then on a recent Sunday, I was spending time with family and friends at North Coast Pinball in downtown Nehalem, and we were having quite the conversation about the need for revolutionary thinking to save the planet and humanity—because if it’s not now, then it’s never, and we find that unacceptable. (The owner seemed to agree because he came over and gave us a stack of free tokens.)

During this conversation, my friend says, “But you know what, we can do this, hope is not lost. We can save ourselves, because time is not linear.” There it was again! Who are all these people who understand time is not linear, and why am I not one of them? So, I set about researching the concept, out of necessity. Because after 18 years of working with NCLC, I’ve said at least 1,000 times to supporters, community members, and local leaders, “Our pledge is to protect and steward these lands and waters on the Oregon Coast in perpetuity.”

 You see, there can only be perpetuity if time is not linear. Linear time has to have a known path, and an end point. Perpetuity, on the other hand, is forever. There is no end, no line to follow. My conclusion after my research is that I’m either getting a bit woo-woo myself, or that it is simply true. For now, I’m going with it’s true: Time is not linear—Albert Einstein said so. In the past century, Einstein’s discoveries shattered our concepts of time. He showed us that time was and is created by things along the way; it wasn’t there waiting for those things to act within it. He demonstrated that time is relative, moving more slowly if an object is moving fast. Events don’t happen in a set order. There isn’t a single universal “now,” in the sense that Newtonian physics would have it.

What’s the importance of time’s true meaning—this idea that time is not linear but relative—in relation to our conservation work and for our future? The future is not yet decided. The fate of our planet is not sealed. Any and all realities are possible. What we do now is what will shape that uncharted path. Therefore, the future is already happening now. And that means there is so much opportunity for making great choices! A myriad of decisions, changes, divergences, all yet to come and all influenced by what we do in the present. So let’s make decisions our way, to ensure we are doing right by our cherished Oregon Coast and charting her future so it is pointed in a direction that is vast, beautiful, connected, resilient, and robust.

Right now, you are making a monumental difference for the future through your support of conservation. Thank you for choosing to further this life-changing cause with your donations today!



I believe the reason many environmental supporters envision a daunting future is because it’s difficult to notice the good work already happening in our community, our state, and the world. The bad is what flashes brightest in front of us, so it appears to be The Everything. It then mars our ability to imagine a brighter future and to be hopeful. This is another fascinating bit about relative vs. linear time: The way we shape our memories of the past influences what we can imagine for the future. In fact, the two processes are linked. We recruit similar parts of the brain both to reminisce and to picture our lives in years to come. It’s the possession of our memories that permits us to imagine a future, remixing scenes from the past to preview future events in our minds. If we recall the bad, we envision the bad, but if we recall the good, we can envision the good.

So let me share with you some of the very good work and wonderful news that is happening around you right now. Take note of the many changes, advances, projects and programs that exist and continue to grow to support our lands, waters, wildlife and people on the Oregon Coast. Harness those memories to shape the future we imagine and strive for together. And use it as your compelling reason to keep supporting our local conservation work!

I recently met with colleagues from Oregon’s land trust community, and it was inspiring to hear about the incredible things currently taking place. There are new and large acquisitions happening all around the state, creating thousands of acres of conserved lands. There are land transfers happening, efforts to acknowledge past wrongs and return areas of homeland back to tribes. There is reconnection happening, with indigenous peoples’ access to their traditional gathering grounds—some of which now exist on land trust properties—being restored in order to harvest First Foods and other materials. For some of the tribal members, this is the first time they’ve had access to their homelands in their lifetime, and that relationship, that connection, of person to the land is critical to the healing of our Earth, our Mother.

These are things that weren’t happening even just a decade ago, and now they are—proof that positive change is happening if we stop and take notice. In our own backyard, we continue to celebrate the immense effort that went into conserving the Rainforest Reserve, 3,500 acres of temperate rainforest that is uniquely positioned to play an important role in connectivity and climate resiliency. With your support, we’ve ensured it is protected for future generations, and we’re diving deep into its long-term stewardship, taking actions to care for it by assessing critical habitat, removing invasive plant species, and nursing it back to health where it’s been damaged. We’re also weighing the potential of expanding the reserve’s borders, to ensure we’re capturing all the necessary habitat for endemic species that, of course, have no regard for human-made property boundaries.

Because of the support of our donors, we can take the next steps to make the Rainforest Reserve—and all of our habitat reserves—stronger, more beneficial, and more powerful.


Photo by Neal Maine


Another thing we’re observing is source-water protection becoming more common and sought after as a conservation tool in our region. That was the main purpose behind the Arch Cape Community Forest, which was officially established in the summer of 2022. The community forest was created, first and foremost, to provide safe, clean and affordable water to residents and visitors. This year, the Neskowin Regional Water District is also acquiring roughly 40 acres of forested land, the first phase in a long-term vision to protect the watershed surrounding their water source. NCLC has been able to help facilitate these community projects along the Oregon Coast because of your consistent support. And with your donations today, we can continue.

All these individual successes are also emblematic of a larger trend and the changing worldview behind it. People are becoming more aware of how important it is to protect the resources in their communities that they depend on for their own health and well-being, starting with fresh air and clean water. It’s uplifting to see communities come together and strive for natural solutions, and it’s a reminder that we are truly living in a transformative time.

We’re even witnessing significant positive changes at the state and federal levels. In 2021, Deb Haaland became the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior—the first indigenous person to serve as a cabinet secretary. And Charles F. Sams III, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Northeast Oregon, is leading the National Park Service. Again, he’s the first indigenous person to fill that role.

Additionally, this past year, the state of Oregon celebrated the 10-year anniversary of implementing the Oregon Marine Reserves Program. Oregon’s five marine reserve sites—including the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, which exists in our backyard and is now the centerpiece of NCLC’s marine program—are dedicated to conservation and scientific research, and we’ve learned amazing and critical things over the past decade to support our Ocean.

Those are profound changes, and they give us so much hope when it comes to the direction we’re traveling and how we can take steps to give our Earth what she needs, what our lands and waters need, to be healthy and survive. We can support this change, join in what is already happening.

Every day, we are able to take one more step toward the future we want, to turn it into our present reality, because of your generous donations. Thank you for considering a gift today.

In a poem by Walt Whitman, the speaker is struggling to find significance, a purpose, amid what may be perceived as life’s unending grind. What’s the point? What is our meaning? And then the speaker finds an answer: “That you are here—that life exists and identity; that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Life goes on. Change is happening and will continue to happen. The future is constantly approaching, becoming our today. In many ways, it is our today. What’s exciting is that during our lifetimes, we can play a part. We can contribute a verse. We can insert our own beautiful thread into the majestic tapestry comprised of past, present and future. We exist, we are here, and we can join the dance.

And you can too. By supporting conservation on the Oregon Coast, you are defining what you want your verse, your legacy, to be.

The fate of the Earth is not yet sealed. It is still influenced by the now, by the actions we decide to take—or to not take—on a daily basis.

As long as we keep doing the good things, the good things keep happening.


With love and gratitude,

Katie Voelke

Executive Director


Photo by Trav Williams/Broken Banjo Photography


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