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Adventurer of the Year

Last week my parents and I went down to Washington DC for an evening at the National Geographic Society headquarters, where I was named National Geographic Adventure magazine’s Adventurer of the Year. This is a HUGE honor, and I’m frankly humbled by the flattering 5-page article (in the Dec/Jan issue, now available at newstands) and by the elite group of explorers that have received this distinction before, including Ed Viesturs (the first American to summit all 14 8,000-meter peaks, all without oxygen) and Colin Angus (the first person to circumnavigate the world using only self-propelled means of travel). Rebel billionaire Sir Richard Branson and legendary polar explorer Will Steger were recognized with Lifetime Achievement awards at the event as well. So, pretty good company…

On Friday morning I had a meeting with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, a born-and-raised Idahoan who is very personable and passionate about the outdoors. During the 30-minute meeting we talked about our favorite outdoor experiences and activities; our shared concern about Americans (especially youth) being increasingly detached from the environment, and the implications of that on future wildland protections and the global environment’s health; his policy agenda for his last 15 months in office (including the very admirable $1 billion 10-year funding increase for the National Parks in preparation for the agency’s centennial in 2016); and how global warming is threatening iconic features and the overall health of our natural areas. In regard to this last issue, the Secretary stated that it was not the Interior’s responsibility to determine why it’s happening — it is, he agrees — but instead to determine how to best react to it.

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