Contributed by: John Bush
John and Emma

I am a part of the land that I own …and it has become a part of me. I became a part of the land while growing up. I walked and worked and played on the land …and I listened to the stories told by my parents as they talked of their childhood, teenage, young adult, and then their adult years …as they became a part of the land.

I am a part of my family. I was raised with a respect and love for them and for the land that was so much a part of their lives. I love and respect the unspoiled wonders of nature that lie protected within the boundaries of the land …the unspoiled wonders that were passed on from my family to me.

I am a part of three generations of families who settled here and became a part of the land. Three generations who preserved the land in the face of an ever changing world. I am a part of all these things and I want to be a part also of what has been done by the generations that preceded me.

I have the desire to do what has been done before me …to pass on to the generations that follow that which has been preserved and passed on to me.

When I was growing up on the farm listening to the stories my parents told of their childhood, teenage, and young-adult years, I realized that I was now a part of these stories that were being passed from generation to generation. During those listening years, I developed a love and respect for my family and for the generations that preceded us …and a love and respect for the land that was so much a part of them. I began to realize that each generation had passed on not only love and respect for family …and love and respect for the land, but also a responsibility, a stewardship to preserve the land unspoiled for the generations to come. As time went by, I became  living proof of the old adage that… “Living closely with anyone or anything becomes the place you keep your heart.”  I love my parents and the close relationship that developed between them as they lived and worked and enjoyed life together …while fishing, hunting, trapping, farming, and carrying on the tradition of preserving the land in all that they did.

As I grew up and saw two parcels our land sold, divided, and developed, I knew that if I was to honor and preserve the gifts of nature and the gifts from my ancestors, I would have to do something to get in the way of having that ever happen again. I was troubled as I pondered the responsibility that I felt …and then one day, I discovered the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. Their mission to “set aside land to preserve open spaces” fit perfectly into what I was trying to find.

There are those who raise questions about my decision. Some may question whether or not the 170 acres we own will be of a significant size to make a difference in preserving open space or providing the habitat and range for almost any form of wildlife. And yet, I am reminded of the old saying that… “What a Shame it is that some people do nothing because they could only do a little.”

Unlike some in the world, I don’t see our countryside as a commodity, but rather as a community …where I am some small part of that community with the control of the destiny of the part that I own.

Some people ask questions about the compensation received in exchange for the preservation of the land. My thoughts and feelings about the value of land and the value of preserving all that naturally comes with it, are reflected in the words of Albert Einstein who once spoke about the difficulty of putting a value on certain things. The words that he used were …”Some things that count cannot be counted.” Those words illustrate how I feel about trying to put a value on land that has been preserved for 3 generations …land that has come to me unspoiled …land where the wonders of nature still exist in their delicate balance, protected from all that goes on in the world outside of the protective boundaries of the land.

In closing I am reminded of the teachings of the American Indians who spoke of the land, the very Earth itself, as being “Mother”. Having placed the preservation of the land that is a part of me into the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy, I honor my own mother, and my deceased father, and the generations before me that have preserved the land that was a part of them. I do it with the love and respect that I hold for them all …for my Family and its relationship with the land.

John Bush, of Big Rapids, Michigan, offered the above testimonial. He and his mother, Emma Bush, donated a permanent conservation easement to the Chippewa WatershedConservancy on 92 acres of their land in 2010, and plan to protect additional acreage inthe future.