It's probably no surprise that a nature-loving lawyer would become a staunch supporter of Earthjustice. But the path Ben McClinton has taken through life — the path that sparked his dedication to Earthjustice — is anything but usual.
Only nine when he lost his parents, Ben was raised by his grandparents in northern Utah. "Many family gatherings included a trip up a canyon to picnic and hike," he recalls. "I learned early on what treasures wild spaces are." Later, most vacations were backpacking trips.
Ben's commitment to wild places was cemented through two extensive, years'-long trips, one of which took him around the world. "I visited wildlife preserves in India and saw the degradation of the land through deforestation," he says. "It was heartbreaking. That's when I realized that when we protect nature, we do so not just for our country, but for the whole world."
Ben's real "aha" moment came later. "As a lawyer, I know how powerful effective legal advocacy can be — especially the kind Earthjustice provides against the Goliaths of government and acquisitive corporations."
Passionate about Earthjustice's work to prevent Utah's Canyonlands National Park from becoming a highway for off-road vehicles, Ben praises Earthjustice's approach of partnering with local groups — like the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which he also supports. "The local group provides the knowledge of the community and its issues, and Earthjustice provides the legal and financial resources to effect change," he explains.
Over the years, Ben and his wife have supported wilderness and environmental organizations, not just with activism, but with donations. As they began making provisions for what would happen when they pass away, they knew they wanted to leave most for protectors of the natural world. They decided to make a provision for Earthjustice.
"We believe in giving the children in our families many of the benefits of having money — things like education, health care and homes in good neighborhoods," Ben explains. "But then they need to be on their own. Neither of us was born to wealth, but by living frugally and investing, we've saved enough to make a difference. Not a Warren Buffet difference, but a difference nonetheless. We choose to make a difference for the natural world, and believe Earthjustice can most effectively do that."