Introducing Vik Anantha - Oregon Wild board president
My name is Vik Anantha and I am the new Board President of Oregon Wild. It’s an honor and privilege to serve Oregon Wild. In my day job, I am a health care IT executive, but volunteering with Oregon Wild lets me care about the health of the planet.
When I spoke at our 2015 Call of the Wild benefit celebration I asked how many of the attendees were born in Oregon.
Dozens of hands shot up as evidence that many of us have moved from somewhere else and made Oregon, our home. It could be from a neighboring state, like my wife Anne-Marie, or somewhere much further away like me.
I was born and brought up in a city called Bangalore in the southwestern part of India. Bangalore currently has a population of about 8.5 million people. The population of the entire state of Oregon is less than 4 million. The city of Bangalore is more than twice that! My family never went hiking or camping and I grew up disconnected from the wilderness and the outdoors.
All that changed when I moved to Oregon in the mid-1990s for grad school at Oregon State. My first ever hiking/camping trip was a weeklong backpack into the Steens Mountain. There were other firsts that time around, my first time in a neon pink fleece jacket (whole other story we won’t get into, right now). But I was hooked on the outdoors.
In subsequent trips, I discovered ancient forests at Opal Creek, alpine meadows in the Three Sisters and glaciers and ice caves on Mount Hood. In the late ‘90s, I moved to Portland and discovered that Mount Hood was being “loved to death.” Destination style resorts and golf courses were being planned in the Cooper Spur/Tilly Jane backcountry, timber sales like Polallie-Cooper were being planned in and around roadless areas, and Eliot Glacier that I loved to climb around appeared to be shrinking rapidly before my eyes. It was a natural move for me to graduate on to protecting and preserving the wild places that I loved to hike in. As I started helping with the Mount Hood Wilderness expansion work in the early 2000s, I kept running into Oregon Wild.
Back in 2010, I was having an exceptionally difficult time at work, managing a corporate merger, and I was having one of those, “What does it all mean? What am I working for?” moments. I felt that I needed something to counter balance my day job. So, I reached out to Oregon Wild and interviewed to be on the board. It’s been a remarkably enriching experience to interact with the dedicated staff and volunteers who make up Oregon Wild. They fought the timber wars of the late ‘80s, fought numerous damaging timber sales, and protected countless acres of Wilderness.
Talking about Wilderness campaigns, I recently attended the Crater Lake Wolf Rendezvous trip organized by Oregon Wild. This was a 4 day event where we camped on the Rogue and learned about two crucial campaigns that Oregon Wild is working on. The first is the Crater Lake Wilderness proposal that will protect 500,000 acres in the south Cascades and provide a 90-mile long wildlife corridor with only four road crossings. The second is wolves. With Oregon Wild's help wolves have returned to western Oregon for the first time in 70 years. With our help future generations will hear the howls of wolves as they gaze at the moonlit waters of Crater Lake.
None of this would be possible without you. When I came to Oregon 20 years ago, I fell in love with the natural wonders of our state. What are the places that are special for you? What are the places that you couldn’t live without? Please support Oregon Wild – the organization that keeps those special places protected.