Credit: Courtesy

I read with interest the recent story of the condor. Here is my story.

Over 20 years ago, while hiking in the San Rafael Wilderness, I heard a haunting rustle. I looked up and saw six condors soaring overhead. At the time, just 15 condors had been freed into the wild.

Eight years later, I had the privilege of holding a California condor in my arms — assisted by two Fish and Wildlife Service staff, one who held the beak and one the legs. I grasped my arms around the torso of this magnificent bird. Together, on the count of three, we opened our arms and released this bird into the wild.

In 2009, I returned to the wild lands behind Ojai, California, with a close friend and one of my heroes, John Ogden. Over 35 years ago, John, a scientist, helped lead the team that scaled cliffs to retrieve from the wild the last remaining California condors and bring them into captivity to breed them with the hopes of rebuilding a condor population to return to the wild. I stood shoulder to shoulder with John, years after he had set forth to save the bird amid much controversy and even death threats. Yet John and his colleagues persisted.

We stood shoulder to shoulder watching the fruits of that labor as 12 condors soared overhead and glided down to roost upon snags where once their ancestors, too, had presided. Yes, one person with a dream can make a difference.


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