Conservation has been a way of life here since the beginning. It’s the realization that quality of life would always matter, that our nature and history must be preserved for all generations. It’s easy to see why by taking a drive — call it back to the future — along the National Road, just like thousands of early settlers did in their wagons in the early 1800s along the one-time dirt road.

Thousands of them simply stopped here as they saw the potentials of a fruitful life: beautiful forests and plentiful wildlife, the cleanliness and usefulness of the Whitewater River, the flat land and the dark, fertile soil.

Just a mile into Richmond from the east is Hayes Arboretum, a place that has kept alive the old-growth beech-maple forest and offers views of nature unlike few other places.

Travel a bit further down National Road and you’ll encounter a wide expanse of green and then a rose garden on the southern edge of Glen Miller Park. This space, which is welcoming to adults and children, epitomizes a citizenry that valued its environment and the need for playtime in beautiful surroundings. The Madonna of the Trail statue stands guard over the park, while symbolizing spiritual reverence for our community.

Soon, you’ll pass over the Whitewater River Gorge, where walkers and bike-riders can quietly blend in with nature. The new Cardinal Greenway is steps away, voted the best trail in Indiana. It offers a 50-mile pathway to the north … through farmland, parks and small towns.

The Whitewater River flows south into a recreational area that draws people by the thousands from nearby Cincinnati, Dayton and Indianapolis.

Just past the gorge is Earlham College and a stand of trees along National Road that has never been touched. Nature trails abound on the college’s property to the south.

A few miles farther down the road, Cope Environmental Center beckons with nature. It’s an educational driver for nature for our community and our state.

Richmond is taking a leadership position in the clean ecology of the future: a major new plant is repurposing dirty plastic bottles and bringing hundreds of jobs here; our power company is constantly looking for modern ways to deliver electricity; our cities participate in recycling at low costs to our citizens.

Our planning and building infrastructure is focused on efficiency and being eco-friendly. The new Reid Hospital, new housing and new buildings on our educational campuses all live up to these ideals of sustainability.

Our community has a Website that is dedicated to brainstorming ideas. Conservation is a common topic, including recent postings about community gardens, better sidewalks, neighborhood rain barrels and earth-friendly construction methods.

Yes, ecology truly is a way of life here.