Jim Ganahl, a Minnesota musician with Southern California roots, wants to protect the natural places that he loves. Since childhood, he has experienced the power of nature, and he has witnessed, firsthand, as the natural world around him has been compromised.
Jim grew up hiking, camping and skiing amidst the developing landscape of Southern California. His grandparents lived nearby on a ranch adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest, at the base of a 4,000-foot mountain. From the ranch, he could see mountains over 10,000 feet tall, and when he climbed to the top of the nearest peak, he could see the whole San Bernardino Valley to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south.
"One summer," he says, "my father had my twin brother I fix the irrigation pipes that drew water from the National Forest to our ranch. We used our water rights to fill a reservoir during the rainy winter with enough water to irrigate the orange trees throughout the rest of the year."
"It was especially hot where we were working in the canyon, but there was a collecting pool in the shade of a sycamore at the top of the pipeline. One day, while taking a drink from the pool, I looked up and saw a mule deer standing in the shade ten feet from me. I had never been so close to a deer before. After that experience, I paid more attention to the birds, animals and plants. I'll never forget the yucca in bloom and the carpets of acorns under the live oaks."
By 1968, when Jim was a high school senior, he could no longer see mountaintops across the valley, and it was hard to breathe after football practice. The smog in the valley had become so bad that it was killing the pine trees and orange trees.
"In the end," he says, "I left Southern California because I couldn't see the stars anymore. When I was young, living in a small town fifty miles from Los Angeles, the night sky was still a black canvas painted with millions and millions of stars. Now, even in Northern Minnesota, most of those stars have disappeared thanks to light pollution and air pollution. Even the Milky Way has disappeared."
Today, as a member of the Stegner Society, Jim is committed to protecting land so that future generations can experience the power of nature. He established a charitable gift annuity to support The Trust for Public Land’s work to protect the places he loves well beyond his lifetime.
Thanks to Jim and our other generous donors who have made planned gifts to The Trust for Public Land, future generations will have the opportunity to experience the peace and wonderment that nature inspired in him as a child.