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Dr. Richard Latterell

For Dr. Richard Latterell conservation of wilderness has long been an enduring aspiration. For some seventy-five years, from youth through college, career and retirement, enjoyment and preservation of the natural world has been his major preoccupation.

While growing up in the rural environs of central Minnesota, Dr. Latterell and his friends spent much of their free time hiking and playing in local remnants of the Eastern Deciduous Forest Biome which had once blanketed the region. "We were just kids, products of small towns, family farms, and an agrarian economy. Still we resented the deforestation which had effected the replacement of woodlands by farmlands, and we shared a sense of loss regarding the forest that we had never known. From my college years - when I first committed to a career as a biologist - to the present, I have become increasingly aware of and dismayed by the magnitude and diversity of environmental problems afflicting planet earth which are consequent on progressive displacement of natural ecosystems by those of human design."

Now retired from a thirty-four year career which combined teaching and research Dr. Latterell resides on the 120 acre farm in historic, and still mainly rural, Jefferson County, West Virginia, which has been his home for the past 41 years. There he oversees an increasingly sustainable farming operation which builds topsoil, minimizes use of chemical fertilizer and biosides, and seeks to establish a modest deciduous forest comprising native vegetation. The entire farm has been placed under conservation easement so that it may remain a permanent component of the life-support system of Jefferson County. Little if any bona fide wilderness remains in the County. Regardless, Dr. Latterell feels compelled to advocate for preservation, restoration and expansion of the patches of second-growth deciduous forest which persist in riparian corridors and on non-arable slopes within the jurisdiction. "What I'm confronting here is the malady of 'urbanization' which afflicts vast areas of the nation and has already gone too far locally. The syndrome develops from the importing of excessive numbers of new residents into a rural area and the paving over of that area with impervious surfaces, houses, and pavements, to accommodate them. Progressive over-loading affects the community as a cancer affects any living system. By persistently degrading and eventually destroying the life-supporting capability thereof, until in the case of human communities, what remains is a chronically dysfunctional system at best, or at worst an asphalt and concrete wasteland. This is why I placed my farm under conservation easement, to protect it from the cancer of urbanization by keeping the system viable and life supporting. And to persuade other landowners to do the same with lands in their custody."

fieldDr. Latterell supports an impressive array of conservation organizations but The Wilderness Society (TWS) holds a special place among them as the first group he joined when he committed to environmental activism. He became a Life Member of TWS in ca. 1970. Dr. Latterell has employed a number of devices in attempting to contribute significantly to wilderness preservation despite constraints imposed by his modest income as an educator with heavy mortgage payments. Initially he was able to divert a major fraction of proceeds from a recreational cave on his farm to TWS. (This gained him the appellation of "the cave man" in the Development Office of TWS). As his fortunes improved he was able to fund a series of annual Gift Annuities. Recently he designated TWS as a beneficiary in his will. "I hope that by my support of The Wilderness Society I will have made a useful, albeit modest and indirect, contribution to the preservation of what remains of the natural ecosystems of North America. These preserves may prove to be our last line of defense, and ultimate hope of recovery, from the ravages which modern society inflicts on its own life-support system."

Thoreau stated the case concisely when he declared that "In wildness is the preservation of the world." His prescience was intuitive but modern ecological science provides ample support for his assertion. Accordingly, contemporary wilderness must be understood and valued for what it is, and for what it does, that is, as remnants of undisturbed, uncontaminated, fully functional natural ecosystems, which comprise the life support systems of planet earth. If wilderness areas of all types are preserved on adequate scale deficiencies of human ecosystems could be compensated and thereby made more sustainable. That is, if wilderness areas are adequately valued, preserved and understood they could serve as models and provide rationale and resources for development of sustainable human societies. Those who find cogency in the foregoing arguments will also find compelling reasons to support The Wilderness Society in the fulfillment of its mission. The urgent need for present and future generations of Americans to preserve wilderness and develop societies which can emulate natural ecosystems cannot be overstated."

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to The Wilderness Society a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to The Wilderness Society, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

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A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to The Wilderness Society or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to The Wilderness Society as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to The Wilderness Society as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and The Wilderness Society where you agree to make a gift to The Wilderness Society and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.