This is a picture of Patagonia Park in Chile. It is a 10 million acre wilderness park. The Chilean government owned approximately 8 million acres and the Tomkins owned approximately 2 million acres. Two million acres – I thought there had to be an error. Two million acres is equal to 3125 square miles, or viewed as a square piece of land 55 miles on a side. The land is not all contiguous, but nevertheless, it is an amazingly large area of preserved wilderness.
The idea of starting small but thinking big, is personified in Doug and Kris Tompkins. Doug Tompkins is not longer with us, but his contribution lives on and will continue to inspire others. In January 2018, I read how Kris Tompkins had donated 2 million acres of land in Patagonia, Chile to the Chilean government so they could continue to preserve their heritage.
The first line of Douglas Tompkin’s brief biography in Wikipedia say a lot:
“Douglas Rainsford Tompkins (March 20, 1943 – December 8, 2015) was an American conservationist, outdoorsman, philanthropist, filmmaker, agriculturalist, and businessman who assembled and preserved the land which became the largest gift of private land to government in South America.”
Doug’s incredible life came to a tragic end, dying of hyperthermia on a kayak trip in 2015, the gift was made by his wife Kristine.
This is a northern California story. Somehow, there’s a greater feel up there for environmental causes, or what can be done, in a big way, to help our planet. It makes sense that is why the Sierra Club and many other groups have headquarters in northern California. Other places have mountains, seashore and scenic views, but everything is so close in northern California. However, it isn’t really what’s there, but how you become a part of it.
This is a story which begins at the epicenter of the 60’s culture, San Francisco. Susie Russell picked him up Doug as he was hitch hiking in Reno and in 1964 they were married. They had attended the same high school, but had not known each other then. Susie and Jane Tise began a clothing business called “Plain Jane” which ultimately became the brands, North Face and Espirit. Fast forward a couple of decades, and both Doug and Susie Tompkins were millionaires. In 1986, Espirit had sales of over 800 million dollars.Doug and Susie divorced in 1989. Both remarried, and continued their philanthropic environmental activism. Susie Tompkin Buell strongly supported climate change initiatives, the media matters organization and progressive political organizations.
This is the story of three incredible individuals (Doug and Kris Tompkins and Susie Buell) who became rich because of their talents and hard work, and then gave so much back to us. It’s truly inspiring. It is now up to the Chilean government to maintain their gift from the Tompkins for future generations.
Please see the links below.