Humanist program focuses on benefits of being outdoors

Record-Eagle/Jan-Michael StumpHolly and Gary MacAulay take their dog, Zack, on his daily walk along the Leelanau Trail near Traverse City.

TRAVERSE CITY — Humans are an integral part of the natural environment according to humanist principles — and being a humanist means having an environmental ethic, says one follower.

"Our interest and concern goes beyond human beings to the natural environment," said Scott Blair, president of the Grand Traverse Humanists, which will present a program on local efforts to preserve and enjoy the natural environment. "Humans thriving requires a healthy and functioning ecosystem."

The free program is set to begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Traverse Area District Library's Woodmere location in Traverse City. Speakers will include Brian Beauchamp, outreach and program director for TART Trails, and Marissa Duque, campaign coordinator for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

Blair said the speakers will discuss topics that are of interest to the humanist group's members, many of whom are environmental and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The environment is a re-occurring theme at the group's monthly gatherings, he said.

"I think we are wired to have an appreciation for nature. It's good for our well-being," Blair said. "The best way to understand how the universe works is to go out and observe it."

Beachchamp said he will talk about the history of the local non-motorized trail network, what designated trails are available and what projects can be expected in the future.

"In many ways we are taking the lead and demonstrating how to do trails through collaboration and partnerships and making these trails accessible to everyone," he said.

TART Trails are ideal places to be outdoors, exercise and enjoy the natural environment, said Beuachamp, who manages the VASA winter grooming program that covers more than 35 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails.

"Now more than ever people are enjoying the benefits and taking advantage of them," he said, adding that the environment is there for all to appreciate. "It's the best thing for us."

Duque is expected to discuss the $71.5 million Campaign for Generations, a land conservation and protection effort that involves more than 6,300 acres of sensitive farmlands and wild places across Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Manistee counties. The effort is designed to further enhance the nonprofit agency's existing protected land and water resources.

Blair said the Grand Traverse Humanists often host outings in the environment during the summer months, including monthly bike rides, hiking trips and group camping.

Want to go?

Who: Grand Traverse Humanists

What: Free program on environmental conservation and outdoor recreation

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 10

Where: Traverse Area District Library, 610 Woodmere Ave., Traverse City

Learn more: www.gthumanists.org

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