Discussion: Founder Of The North Face Dies In Kayaking Accident

Discussion for article #243590

Tompkins’s conservation work has few if any equivalents elsewhere–where a single individual has preserved so much wild land. The people of Chile will increasingly realize the gifts he’s left. For long decades his activities were considered nefarious (a foreigner buying land that effectively cut the narrow country into two pieces!) and harmful to the economy (tying up land that could otherwise be logged in the future). It’s the same as western U.S. interests 100 years ago opposed the creation of national parks and national forests in this country.

Because of its isolation and its climates that are rare in other parts of the globe, Chile is home to many unique endemic species of plants and wildlife. In the lower and more accessible coastal mountain ranges (as opposed to the Andes) the vast majority of the native forests have been cut down and replanted with faster-growing North American tree species such as Monterey pine to feed the export logging industry. Very small acreages of untouched remnant vegetation in the coast ranges were belatedly acquired by the Chilean government as nature preserves. Tompkins acted in time to preserve large enough areas in more remote parts of the country–where his fortune would stretch further–so that entire viable ecosystems would not be lost.


Dying doing what you love, in a place you loved and helped preserve. Not a bad way to live or die.

You said it. I’d much rather go that way than laying in a hospital bed full of tubes and monitors.