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Famed conservationist Kris Tompkins visiting Spokane

Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco, in Parque Patagonia, Chile. (James Q Martin)
Kris Tompkins in Valle Chacabuco, in Parque Patagonia, Chile. (James Q Martin)

Kris Tompkins, a world-renowned conservationist and preserver of vast South American landscapes, will speak in Spokane on May 31.

The Inland Northwest Conservancy is hosting Tompkins. All money from ticket sales will go toward the Spokane-area conservation organization.

Dave Schaub, the executive director of the conservancy, said he invited Tompkins to Spokane while visiting her in Patagonia over Christmas.

Schaub’s mother, Nancy Schaub, is Tompkins’ friend.

Tompkins is the head of Tompkins Conservation. In 2018, she completed one of the largest largest donations of privately held land by donating millions of acres to the the Chilean government.

Schaub said Tompkins recognizes the necessity of local conservation, of the kind the Land Conservancy does.

“I think she sees the importance of conserving land of all kinds and projects of all sizes,” Dave Schaub said.

Nancy Schaub met Tompkins and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, about 10 years ago.

Doug Tompkins was the co-founder of the North Face and Esprit clothing companies and Kristine Tompkins was the CEO of the apparel company Patagonia.

Doug Tompkins died kayaking in Chile in 2015.

Schaub doesn’t know what Tompkins will talk about during her Spokane visit, but it will likely touch on the inherent value of the natural world.

“She has strongly held ethics around the importance of beauty and the sacredness of creation,” he said. “And the spiritual value and importance of protecting those values.”

Tompkins is not charging her normal speaker fee, instead donating her time to the conservancy. Mountain Gear is covering all costs associated with the event. Ticket sales go directly to the conservancy, Schaub said.

“I had said to her how humbling it is to be in this business, to be conserving hundreds of acres at a time and then meet someone who is conserving millions of acres at a time,” Schaub said of visiting with her in December. “She said, very graciously, ‘What you’re doing is just as important as what we’re doing.’ ”

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