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30 Stories for 30 Years: If I Value Natural Spaces, I’m Obligated to Help Save Them

Larry Dendy became a member of ORLT shortly after its founding and served on the board of directors for 25 years. While Larry has moved away from Athens, he remains a loyal friend to ORLT and we remain grateful for his commitment. With a passion for the outdoors, Larry often volunteered to monitor protected properties – his help was invaluable over the years, particularly as ORLT’s land conservation efforts expanded to tens of thousands of acres across the state of Georgia. Below, Larry explains what drew him to ORLT.

Larry Dendy in Spring of 2021 visiting a conservation easement near Baldwin, Georgia. Photo by Kathy Parker.

"As a child I loved to ramble around the pastures and ponds of my grandparents’ Tennessee farm. Many years later I enjoyed biking through farmlands and forests of rural eastern Clarke/western Oglethorpe counties. During a period of personal and professional stress, I found solace in the quiet beauty of the State Botanical Garden and tranquil trails at Sandy Creek Nature Center and other local parks."

"These landscapes gave me joy through physical exercise, spiritual and mental rejuvenation, and appreciation of the wonders of the natural world. But though they enhanced and enriched my life, I mindlessly took these spaces for granted, not considering that they existed because steps had been taken to preserve them."

"That truth dawned on me one day while riding with founding ORLT board member Al Ike to Atlanta on the then-recently completed Highway 316. I groused that it probably wouldn’t be long until the rural forests and fields along the road were turned into commercial and residential eyesores. Al’s response was something like “Don’t think about what’s happening today. Think how this will look in 50 years.”

"My prediction, sadly, is coming true. But the wisdom of Al’s remark still inspires and challenges me: If I value natural spaces, I’m obligated to help save them."

"As a career journalist and public relations practitioner, I don’t share a background in science, law or education that most ORLT board members have. But I’m unwaveringly committed to preserving natural habitats and landscapes. I’m grateful that ORLT vigilantly pursues that mission and I’m proud to have supported its work for three decades."

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