EARTHKeeper – Barry McPherson
By Jenny Holmes
What inspired you to go into fish and wildlife management?
I was born and raised in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains by Mono Lake, a large saline lake in the high desert east of Yosemite National Park. Trout fishing was very popular and a big summer tourist industry, but not in saline Mono Lake. Inspired by a high school biology teacher, I majored in Zoology at UC Santa Barbara. I returned to my beloved Eastern Sierra each summer. In my junior year, I switched from pumping gas and selling fishing tackle to being a technician at a US Fish & Wildlife Service trout research field lab. I was inspired and mentored by wonderful fish scientists and by our work in the nearby lakes and streams, some of them 10,000 - 11,000 ft. above sea level. The phrase “Boy, we’re up here in God’s Country now!” was stated often.
After receiving my MS in Fisheries, from Oregon State I started a 29-year career with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in research and then fishery management.
As Co-Chair of the Cascades Presbytery Eco-Justice Team, what have been some of the most meaningful experiences and projects?
My efforts to get people outdoors into God’s Creation through the Eco-Justice Team have been very meaningful to me. My favorites were kayak trips in a coastal wetland on the central coast of Oregon. It took a lot of help from other members of the Team to organize and conduct these trips which started with devotional readings and discussions over sack lunches in nearby churches.
As Co-Chair of the Team, I found great meaning and reward in shepherding a Resolution on Expansion of Coal Exports to Asia through the Presbytery of the Cascades process to win approval in March 2013. The resolution directed the Eco-Justice Team, and encouraged congregations, to advocate for full disclosure about the impact of expanded coal exports on the most vulnerable among us, including those in communities throughout the United States and abroad, and to request that adequate information be generated for review by the public. The Team distributed copies of the resolution to the Oregon Governor and Congressional Delegation with requests that they agree and act accordingly at their governmental level. In 2014 I went to General Assembly in Detroit as an Overture Advocate to win GA adoption of an overture calling for Programmatic Review of the Impact of Expanded Coal Export Projects on Human Health and Well Being. A very meaningful result of adoption of this overture was a May 2015 letter from the GA Stated Clerk Grayde Parsons to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging denial of a permit for a proposed coal export terminal in Puget Sound, WA. The permit was denied and the Lummi Nation expressed gratitude to the PC(USA) for the assistance provided by this letter.
You are guiding a hike on the Fish Pond Trail at Menucha during PEC's Spirit of the Salmon Environmental Justice Immersion on September 25 and 26 in the Columbia Gorge. What do you hope that people who participate come away with?
I hope that participants will come away with a greater appreciation of the beauty, complexity, and importance of God’s Creation, some threats to its well-being, and a renewed or expanded interest in doing things that will protect and sustain the Creation. I hope they will also experience moments of peace and awe in the experience of hearing, smelling, seeing, and touching Creation in this unique landscape.
Jenny Holmes lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband John and dog Verda. She is coordinating the 2017 PEC Conference Coordinator and is a past PEC moderator. She also works for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliances as the WA-OR Field Organizer and is former Environmental Ministries Director for Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon.