The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 1

By: Matt Sandler, Rocky Mountain Wild
May 20, 2017

Let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Sandler, you can call me Matt, and I am the Staff Attorney at Rocky Mountain Wild (RMW). After someone works at RMW for five years, they are entitled to take a sabbatical. I have been with the organization for seven years and felt it was time to take advantage of this benefit.

I’ve spent my time at RMW challenging oil and gas leasing, working to gain Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for wildlife in our region, suing the Federal Government over bad decisions (such as the “Village” at Wolf Creek access decision, Rocky Flats land transfer to build the “Jefferson Parkway,” failure to list the white-tailed prairie dog under the ESA, Freedom of Information Act violations, licensing of the Pinon Ridge Uranium Mill, failure to designate Canada lynx critical habitat in Colorado, etc.), and monitoring activity on our Public Lands to ensure responsible management. I am lucky to get to do work I believe in and enjoy (at least most of the time).

RMW’s Sabbatical Policy states, “Sabbaticals may be used for any project or activity that advances the employee’s professional development.” What should an attorney for an environmental non-profit do for a sabbatical? I turned to the Internet to get some guidance. The Internet says, “The term sabbatical actually is derived from the biblical Sabbath which serves an ancient human need to build periods of rest and rejuvenation into a lifetime.” So, “professional development” and “rest and rejuvenation”…

After some pondering (and knowing that whatever I do will involve the family – Jen and our 5 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old boys), it seemed clear that we should head out on a three-week road trip! We will spend time driving around the Southern Rockies Eco-region (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming), visit the places RMW works to protect, try to see some of the species we advocate for, observe the threats to these places and wildlife, and report back to our members, supporters, or anyone else who stumbles upon this blog.

As I write this, the piles of stuff are strewn around the house, we’re checking things off lists, planning a new route (because this spring snow storm forced us to adjust the original route that was going to begin in the Red Desert and Adobe Town areas of Wyoming, finishing up a 10th Circuit Appeal, and wondering if this sabbatical will involve any “rest and rejuvenation.”

My belief is that having the opportunity to spend time with nature and immerse myself in the landscape will help feed my passion for the work I do at RMW. Getting to share this experience with my young children will give me a different perspective and a reminder of why it’s so important to protect these places for the next generations. I hope that sharing these experiences with you will be both entertaining and a reminder of why it is so important to protect these wild lands and wildlife – especially in times like these.

Did you see The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 9, The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 8The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 7The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 6The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 5The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 4The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 3The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 2, or  The SabbMattical Chronicles – Volume 1?

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