30 Years. 30 Supporters
South Alabama Land Trust has thrived for 30 years thanks to hundreds of supporters ranging from casual volunteers to major donors to landowners.
Over the next year 12 months, we will celebrate 30 years of conservation by telling stories from 30 supporters that have helped us become the organization we are today. We hope that in reading their stories you will meet an assortment of like-minded people who enjoy the abundance of natural resources—the land, the water, and the wildlife—in south Alabama, and who are doing their part to protect what we have today, and for the tomorrows of those who come behind us.
A long-time donor and former board member Gaye Lindsey grew up with an appreciation of the biodiversity of Baldwin County.
“I grew up in Bay Minette and we had a cottage in Orange Beach. My father and grandfather owned timberland and we always enjoyed being outdoors.” As her work took her to other areas of the country, she kept in touch with area happenings through family who remained in Baldwin County.
“My father told me about the foundation, and about the fine things they were doing. I was living in Virginia at the time.” In coming “back home” to visit and care for her mother, she learned more about what was then known as the Weeks Bay Foundation.
“I met Skipper (Tonsmeire), who was very involved. Then I ended up buying a condo in Fairhope. A few years later, I decided it was time to get back to Baldwin County.
“I believe that conserving land is important for the future of our world. My support of the trust is my primary way to accomplish that.” Her involvement has included major gift donations, volunteering at the trust’s Bald Eagle Bash and participating in Birdfest. Lindsey is also very involved in Ecumenical Ministries and the Eastern Shore Art Center.
Mike McKown was born in Arkansas and raised mostly in Florida, but for more than 30 years he’s lived in Baldwin County and worked along the coast. For many of those years, he’s supported the efforts of the trust through his donations and he continues to be involved.
“I’ve had a place on Fish River for about 32 years now,” he said. “I have an interest in Fish River. They own property across the river from me and I started following what they’d done. They have been very good about buying property to preserve.
“I boat a little, but I don’t get a chance to fish too much,” he said of his activities on the river. Before his retirement a decade ago, McKown worked with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, from its Mobile District office. In his work, he saw how interaction between development and preservation can be contentious at times.
“Sometimes there’s a lot of misunderstanding,” he said. “I think the two can go hand in hand. I think, many times, one side has not understood the other.” With communication and compromise, that understanding can come, he believes. “The outcome can be mutually beneficial.”
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