The lonely mountaineer and the geography of hope

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Mountain quail will be the topic of Dr. Jennifer Gee’s talk Thursday as part of the Idyllwild Community Center’s speaker series. Gee is director of the University of California’s James Reserve in the San Jacinto Mountains.        Photos courtesy of Jennifer Gee

Mountain quail will be the topic of Dr. Jennifer Gee’s talk Thursday as part of the Idyllwild Community Center’s speaker series. Gee is director of the University of California’s James Reserve in the San Jacinto Mountains. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Gee

Dr. Jennifer Gee, James Reserve director, is the featured speaker at the upcoming Idyllwild Community Center Speaker Series. She will talk about the Mountain Quail, called by John Muir, the “lonely mountaineer,” because of their elusiveness. Gee will speak and show slides beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16 at the Silver Pines Lodge.

Gee said she’d wrap the story of the Mountain Quail into a larger story of her love for the wilderness and what one can learn from it.

Dr. Jennifer Gee

Dr. Jennifer Gee

“I can’t believe I can see what I do,” said Gee, who said she is astonished daily by the diversity and beauty of the wildlife that surrounds her.

In addition to talking about the lonely mountaineer, she will also talk about the importance of the Wilderness Act, signed into law 50 years ago. The act formalizes the protection of 110-million wilderness acres from coast to coast and created the National Wilderness Preservation System that manages and maintains the integrity of the protected wilderness areas.

Seminal to Gee’s appreciation for her work in the wilderness, and for all who dedicate themselves to its preservation, is a letter by author Wallace Stegner. Gee said all who love the wilderness can learn from Stegner’s letter, written in 1960 as technology was overtaking frontiers in all countries, and especially here. Stegner wrote, “The American experience has been the confrontation by old peoples and cultures of a world as new as if it had just risen from the sea. That gave us our hope and our excitement, and the hope and excitement can be passed on to newer Americans … but only so long as we keep the remainder of our wild as a reserve and a promise … we simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

There is no charge for this event. A wine and cheese reception begins at 5:30 p.m.

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