30 for 30

14-Jerry-Descending-350x216We were 150 miles south of the official starting point, and yet the location — a small room at the Teton Science Schools in Jackson — seemed so appropriate.

For it was in just such a room, at the Teton Science Schools’ old Kelly Campus, that the Greater Yellowstone Coalition was launched 30 years ago.

On this Wednesday night in mid-March, the event was yet another ground-breaking moment: The launching of Cycle Greater Yellowstone, the latest out-of-the-box effort to educate and inspire the world about the incomparable wonders of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The week-long, fully supported event is the first of its kind, both for the region and for a conservation advocacy group, but why not? For it was here in 1872 that the world was introduced to the idea of a national park. And it was here in the early 1980s that the concept of an ecosystem was birthed.

That the launching of Cycle Greater Yellowstone took place at the Teton Science Schools’ new, modernized Jackson Campus seemed fitting as well. After all, the August bicycle tour from West Yellowstone to Red Lodge, Mont., is in its own right a modern form of conservation advocacy.

The theory is this: Bring 1,000 cyclists from around the globe to Greater Yellowstone, along with their families and a supporting cast of more than 100. Let them discover the region’s magnificence from the saddle of a bicycle. Inspire them with positive messages about the successes and challenges facing the ecosystem.

And then invite them to participate in the protection of Greater Yellowstone’s lands, waters, wildlife and quality of life.

Along the way, the cyclists, communities and GYC forge a bond and start a dialogue that enables all of us to bridge our differences. By bringing diverse cultures together, we will discover that we all love this place — and that we aren’t so different in our values after all. We just need to find a more productive way to resolve our differences.

Cycling creates a positive energy that’s difficult to match. That was evident on March 20 in Jackson, when more than 40 people showed up despite a classic early-spring snowstorm. We answered questions, showed slides from our smoky

September pre-ride, and brainstormed about the 2014 ride coming to Jackson.

For many, it was also the first exposure to GYC — America’s Voice For A Greater Yellowstone for the past 30 years. They learned about the remarkable achievements of the conservation community in just one generation, and that by participating in Cycle Greater Yellowstone they are supporting the protection of one of the last largely intact temperate ecosystems on the planet.

If all goes as we anticipate, it won’t be the last time they attend a CGY function.

Or invest in GYC.

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