VISION QUEST: JIM AND CHRISTINE’S QUASI-MYSTICAL ADVENTURE

Affluent city dwellers are flocking to Fossil Using unorthodox business practices & New to save cheetahs and maned wolves from Rim for a spiritual encounter with Nature. Age philosophy, two eco-visionaries hope extinction-and to make some money.

AS THE SUN RISES OVER THE SMALL LAKE, white addax with their distinctive curly horns and toupees of brown fur wander to the water for their first drink of the day, followed by Damas gazelles, blackbuck, and gemsbok. It’s almost spring, and a few babies have been born already-several delicate blackbuck females have infants trailing them. Hawks and vultures spread their elegant wings and ride the thermals above the hills and ridges of Fossil Rim, a rolling terrain of prairie grasses and live oaks.

Gazing at the lush scene from the porch of a small canvas tent, it’s easy to imagine you are in Zimbabwe or Kenya on a luxury photo safari-not an hour-and-a-half southwest of Dallas near the tiny town of Glen Rose at safari camp, protected from the free-roaming wild animals by a virtually invisible electric fence.

“I love it here!” Carol and Duncan Biddle of Seattle wrote in the small camp diary kept in each cabin. “Never imagined how wonderful it would he to be close to these animals. I love these tents, the starry nights, the beautiful surroundings. “

In a weekend at Fossil Rim, visitors may see more animals than they would see in several weeks in Africa. And it’s unlikely that in Africa they would ever get a chance to feed a rhinoceros an orange, see cheetah kittens from 10 yards away, or watch via video camera while an endangered maned wolf nurses a rare offspring.

These days, Fossil Rim represents the newest wave in the realm of foundations and environmental groups that raise money to save the whales, rescue the rain forests, set free the wolves, and redeem old growth timber. Fossil Rim brings visitors into the experience of nature in a way that watching a video, visiting a zoo, or even biking in the wilderness cannot. Here, people can see dozens of the world’s most fascinating, and endangered, animals. And those who enjoy the Fossil Rim experience know that their money goes directly into conservation of these creatures. Every year, Fossil Rim puts about $700, 000 into various efforts to save endangered species and ecosystems not only in Texas, but all over the world.

“We’re the first company we know of in the world whose business is conservation, ” says Jim Jackson, co-owner of Fossil Rim. “We’re in the business to make money, not to spend other people’s money. “

Fossil Rim didn’t start out as a business. Like most people dedicated to saving some corner of the planet, Jackson and his partner and wife, Christine Jurzykowski, operated the preserve as a nonprofit foundation after buying the property in 1987.

Unlike most environmentalists, however, they put their own personal fortune, running into multimilions of dollars, and full-time labor into the proposition.

But after several years of pursuing elusive grants and philanthropic donations- and hemorrhaging money in the meantime-Jim and Christine took a hard look at the bottom line. It was clear that Fossil Rim couldn’t continue to operate as a nonprofit and hope to survive.

Today, they are attempting to do something no one else in the country has done: Make a profit by giving visitors a fantasy adventure with nature, an almost spiritual experience that enhances their commitment to the environment. With the profits, they plan to develop Fossil Rim fur-ther, as well as to make sizable contributions to the International Rhino Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation, and other groups working to save endangered species.

Their methods-which include “vision quest” meetings to determine goals-may seem unorthodox to most business people. But the partners are betting that the baby boom generation is ready for a deeper conservation experience than sending their $20 to the Sierra Club. They’re even toying with an idea that might seem crazy to some-going public, selling stock in a company that has as one goal giving away lots of money.

Will it work? The answer is years away, but faced with the possible extinction of the world’s most fascinating creatures and the ever-expanding competition for conservation dollars, the couple behind Fossil Rim is going to give it a try, even as they face the dissolution of their own marriage.



If Christine and Jim had known what they were getting into when they bought Fossil Rim, they would have run the other way.

“It was a blessing that we were blind to the realities of it, ” says Christine, 42. Sitting on the sidewalk in the breezeway of the modest building that houses the Fossil Rim offices, she leans hack against a post, remembering 1987. She had never been to Texas before she heard of Fossil Rim.

“I had all the usual misconceptions,” she says, flashing a dazzling white smile, her short dark hair blowing across her face. She dresses not like a rancher but like an artist-black vest over a white shirt and flowing white pants, dangling silver earrings, and funky shoes.

Pre-Fossil Rim, pre-Texas, Christine and Jim were operating a boat-building business based in Denmark, an enterprise compatible with their desire to sail around the world together in their own vessel, a 74-foot sailboat designed for “short-handed” sailing by two people.

They come from very different backgrounds. Jim grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia. After six years in the military, he studied bio-medical engineering at the University of Alabama, then helped design services for paraplegics and quadriplegics.

In the late 70s, Jim moved to New York and got involved in woodworking and blacksmithing. When he met Christine in 1982, he was living on the Hudson River in upstate New York, restoring old houses.

A first-generation American, Christine was born in the United States after her par-ents fled Poland in 1939, on the day-Hitler’s troops invaded. As a child she lived in France, New York, and Brazil, where her father had an import license for Mercedes-Benz. Both of her parents died before she was 18, leaving her on her own.

Though she inherited a considerable fortune, Christine looked for something meaningful to do with her life. “I could do anything, but I couldn’t decide what to do, ” she says. After studying philosophy and communications at college, Christine moved to Japan where she taught English and worked for a magazine. (She speaks Polish, French, Portuguese, and English.) One of her students was a film editor, and he began teaching her how to edit.

Christine moved back to New York in 1973 and apprenticed with film maker Neal Marshad. They formed a company called Cinetudes to make and distribute a film about sculptor Isaac Witkin. Deeply involved in film-making, Christine made commercials, corporate films, and documentaries. When she and Marshad split up four years later, she kept the film business.

Nineteen-eighty-two should have been a high point of her life. As associate producer on an independent feature film for HBO, her career was taking off, and she was getting recognition for her work. Instead, she found herself feeling cynical and stressed out.

“Making a feature is the pinnacle of success, ” she says. “But I didn’t like the film business. Egos were clashing. All I wanted to do was get out. “

When a friend asked her to take care of his house in the country for a summer, “I realized what I had been missing, ” Christine says, “how I had numbed myself to live in the city. ” After that summer, she rented a house for the weekends, then moved there full time.

Not long after Christine and Jim met, they were sitting on the porch of a bed and breakfast on the Hudson River, drinking vodka gimlets and watching enviously as a 50-foot sailboat glided by. Though neither had ever sailed before, “if they can do it, we can do it” became their mantra. They found a book and taught themselves to sail. Within 30 days, they’d bought a boat.

“It was so peaceful on the water,” she says. “There was a connectedness to the earth, to the elements.” Enchanted, they decided to sail around the world. In 1983, she delegated the day-to-day operation to her partner and associate producer, and she and Jim sailed to Florida on the first leg of the dream.

But a vital part of the boat’s mechanism tailed, nearly sinking them before they made it out of the Florida harbor. In the middle of the Atlantic, they knew, the problem could have been fatal. Disillusioned, they decided to limit their adventures to the Caribbean.

As they sailed around the Caribbean over the next two years, the camaraderie of the sailing world restored Christine’s faith in human beings. “People share things, people give things as needed,” Christine says. The voyages strengthened their relationship. “When you sail, you’re putting your life in another person’s hands, ” she says. “It can be scary at times, but it’s a wonderful way of life.” She felt herself awakening spiritually.

While sailing, she and Jim talked about what they wanted to do with their lives. They didn’t have to work for a living, but they wanted to do something that had meaning, something beyond themselves.

“We both loved animals,” Christine says. “Out of those conversations came one simple question: What can two untrained people do on behalf of animals beyond sending a check to the World Wildlife Fund?”’

Then they saw an ad by the man who had written the book they had used to learn to sail. He had started building boats in Europe. They resurrected the idea of circumnavigating the globe, feeling confident that one of his boats would not fall apart on the high seas. After commissioning him to build them a sailboat, they ended up buying his company, Deerfoot Yachts, and moving to Denmark to manage it.

While living in Europe, they saw an English documentary on television about John Aspinall, who started several wildlife preserves in England. They were deeply moved.

“It was the answer to the question we had asked, ” Christine says.

They would start a wildlife preserve.

But where? Over the next couple of years, the two looked into preservation efforts around the world. They learned that there-were only three or four serious private conservation efforts in the United States. One was in Texas.

Upon hearing about their interest, Fort Worth entrepreneur Tom Mantzel called them in January 1987- After making it big in oil and gas, Mantzel had started buying property, including the beautiful Waterfall Ranch near Glen Rose. By 1986, he had amassed about 1, 600 acres and brought in some 500 exotic animals, including rare cheetahs from Namibia, and had changed the preserve’s name to Fossil Rim Ranch. In a controversial move in a field where zoos and foundations call the shots, Mantzel began a breeding program for the endangered cheetahs. Then Fossil Rim was chosen by some of the country’s major zoos as a place to breed the endangered Grevy’s zebra. In the mid-’80s, as oil prices plunged, Mantzel began opening the ranch to drive-through visitors.

At Jim and Christine’s request, some friends visited the ranch and reported that it seemed a worthwhile effort. Christine and Jim agreed to give Mantzel a bridge loan; in turn, he agreed to give them technical assistance in breeding endangered species in Martinique. They had no intention of moving to Texas. “We were supposed to go sailing, ” Christine says, laughing. “But we kept getting more and more involved. An invisible hook was being embedded in me and kept reeling me in. “

After just one visit to Texas in March 1987, Christine and Jim signed a letter of intent to buy the property from Mantzel. Only after contracts were drawn up did they discover the property was in foreclosure. From halfway around the world, they took over the property to protect it from creditors. Their dream was turning into a nightmare. “We were never lied to, but we were not given the full truth, ” Christine says, adding dryly that “Mantzel was a superb salesman. “

To make matters worse, Mantzel filed a lawsuit against them, forcing them to move to Texas to handle the legal problems and take care of the animals and the property. Ultimately they settled amicably out of court with Mantzel. Today, Mantzel supports their efforts and visits the place from time to time.

Aware they would be considered dilettantes by the “professional” environmentalists until they proved themselves, Christine and Jim began an intensive study of conservation methods. Reaction to the two upstarts ranged from dismay and rejection to awe. “Some people thought we were crazy and foolish, not to be trusted in terms of our commitment,” Christine says. “A few people made an effort to believe our commitment was real. “

They looked at the way other conservation programs were set up: Universally, they were founded as nonprofit foundations, competing in the charity marketplace for dollars. Jim and Christine changed the name of the ranch to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to avoid the hunting connotations of some exotic wildlife ranches and their controversial “canned hunts. ” After set-ting up a foundation, they hired a vice president from the World Wildlife Fund to manage it, In addition, Ann Hamilton, a fund-raiser from Houston, was hired to tap into grants from mega-donors and gigantic corporations like Exxon and Chevron.

“I had this fantasy that people would see what we were doing and give us money,” Christine says. They did get numerous donations, but not enough to operate the facility without pumping more of their personal funds into it.

After moving into the house built by Mantzel, the couple got married close to the waterfall that gave the place its original name. They took on management not only of Fossil Rim’s 1,500 acres and 500 animals, hut of its employees as well. They knew so little about many of the animal species, they developed a code when talking to each other. “BWT” was a Big White Thing, and “BBT” was a Rig Brown Thing.

“At first it looked real easy,” says Jim. “We ran it like a (arm. We let the animals breed, fed them, took care of them when they were sick. We were pretty naive. We thought that owning the land and breeding the animals was the goal.”

Thin and deeply tanned, Jim talks about the history of the wildlife center while relaxing in the dining pavilion at the safari camp. From the beginning, jim and Christine divided the labor As prèsident, Jim was the practical one, managing Fossil Rim’s day-to-day activities. That usually meant meetingwith employees, sitting behind a computer, often working 80 to 90 hours per week. Though he can easily quote facts and figures ahout the business side of Fossil Rim, he’s also obviously devoted to the less quantifiable aspects of conservation. He gives a quiet but impassioned defense of the wolf, which is being reintroduced into some parts of the United States.

As chair of the board, Christine was the visionary, learning more about conservation research and trends, spending about 40 percent of her time traveling to seminars and meetings with others in the environmental movement, and bringing new-ideas buck to Fossil Rim. She also sat on the boards of five other environmental and socially conscious organizations.

The drive-through park’s popularity increased dramatically under their leadership, giving North Texas tourists a chance to see and feed wild animals like giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and Arabian oryx. Adding more than 1,000 acres to the property, the couple upgraded the roads and built additional facilities for visitors and animals. Fossil Rim broadened Manuel’s breeding programs to include red wolves, rhinos, and other endangered animals, like At waters Prairie Chicken, a Texas native fluttering on the precipice of extinction. Today, Fossil Rim is home to somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 animals and employs about 70 people, from veterinarians to chefs.

Since Jim and Christine took over, Fossil Rim has been accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. It is now part of the “species survival programs” run by die AZAA, in which certain endangered animals are placed at locations where they can best survive.

Managing Fossil Rim has proved anything but predictable. Animals. Jim and Christine have learned, do weird things. Blackbucks’’pronk,” leaping straight up in the air with all four feet together, when they get excited. Some species, like European red deer and addax, battle viciously during breeding season. The female white rhinos seem to like their female friends better than their male counterparts, which can be a problem during mating season. After successfully getting the highly endangered maned wolves to breed, Fossil Rim’s animal caretakers discovered too late that one mother had eaten her own pups.

And the human visitors don’t behave much more logically at times. Once, driving through the park, an employee rounded a curve and came upon a man with his panes down, screaming in Italian, while a woman nearby jumped up and down in hysteria. The couple tried to explain in excited Italian, but it Book a few minutes before the employee could figure out what had happened. The man had gotten ants in his pants. Despite the numerous signs asking people tostay in their cars, occasionally people ignore them. They run the risk of an unpleasant or even dangerous encounter with an ostrich or a deeply protective female antelope with a newborn baby.

Early on, Jim and Christine attracted some big name donors. Still, despite their successes, they were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. They could not underwrite such a loss indefinitely.

In 1990, Hamilton sat them down for a frank talk. Her contacts in the nonprofit world weren’t working for Fossil Rim. They were new, unknown, lacking a track record. And Glen Rose was more than an hour away from any major metropolitan area, making it harder to get their message out to people.

After working to attract corporate grants to Fossil Rim for more than two years, Hamilton didn’t think major money for conservation was available, The pool was too small and the competition too fierce. In a world plagued by AIDS and other terrible diseases, cheetahs and rhinos take a hack seat when people are doling out their chanty money.

In the last five years, more money for conservation and species-specific programs has become available, Christine says. But the competition has also increased. In Brazil, for example, there were fewer than 50 environmental nonprofits in the late ’80s. Today, there are more than 6,000.

And the reality is that most Texans just don’t give money to conservation efforts. “Ranchers care about the land,” Jackson says. “But everything they hear about the environment and conservation is ’gimme money.’ The Endangered Species Act became a sledgehammer instead of an encouragement. Ranchers won’t let the Feds on their property. They’re terrified they’ll discover an endangered species. That law was the biggest mistake [conservationists] ever made.”

Hamilton’s sobering bombshell found its mark. Jim and Christine re-evaluated their mission.

In July 1991, the board of directors dissolved the Fossil Rim Foundation and gave its few assets to The Pride of Texas, a conservation fund. (Now called Earth Promise, it has offices on the premises, but neither Jim or Christine are on the board of directors.)

Jim and Christine set up Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Inc. as a for-profit corporation, with themselves as the major investors, and began thinking of ways to re-invent conservation.

One of their biggest assets-the animals-proved to he a money-maker in a surprising way. At first Christine and Jim were giving ostriches away. But in the early ’90s, the value of the ungainly birds increased dramatically, spurred by a demand from ranchers interested in breeding them tor a future market in meat, skin, and feathers. Fossil Rim invested in a 400-egg incubator and sold eggs for $500 apiece. Three-month-old birds brought $3,000. At the market’s peak about a year ago, breeding pairs were fetching $60,000 to $75,000. Before the ostrich boom went bust, sales of the animals were bringing in $200,000 to $300,000 a year.

Then, after hosting a Girl Scout camp-out, Jim and Christine realized there was a whole market they had not tapped. They created a “conservation camp” in response, building both an eco-center where groups could come to learn about animals and the environment and rustic cabins with hunk beds where enthusiasts could stay overnight.

One day in 1990, Jim and John Lucas, an early mentor and executive director of conservation efforts at White Oak Plantation in Florida, were driving through a particularly pretty part of Fossil Rim. “You guys ought to build a safari camp,” suggested Lucas, who has made many trips to Africa. He envisioned an experience that would combine gourmet food, wild animals, and luxury tent accommodations much like photo safari camps in Africa.

In the boat business, Christine and Jim had learned at least one thing: While a yacht is a tangible commodity, what they were really selling was a dream, the fantasy of sailing around the world- Or at least to the next marina. Their camp would be about the dream of going on safari, evoking images from movies like Out of Africa and Gorillas in the Mist.

At a cost of about $400,000, they recreated the safari milieu at a scenic spot overlooking a pond. Rustic but comfortable, each of the seven cabins is covered with dun-colored canvas and has two twin beds and a private bath with shower. At a central glassed-in pavilion with a fireplace and a lake view, a gourmet chef serves meals three times a day, with wines chosen from a well-stocked bar.

For three days and two nights, as many as 14 safari campers tour the facilities with a naturalist, getting a behind-the-scenes experience. A rhino slurps pieces of fruit from their outstretched palms. They can watch as male Atwater’s prairie chickens puff up their brightly colored air sacs and stomp their feet to attract a mate, or walk along the fence of the cheetah enclave, getting a close-up look at the world’s fastest land mammal. (The world population of cheetahs in the wild is now estimated between 9,000and 12,000 animals, Since it opened, 83 of the majestic creatures have been born at Fossil Rim. Almost 20 percent of the captive cheetahs in North America can trace their lineage to Fossil Rim.)

Since its inception, the safari camp has been booked from March through November. The cost is $450 a person, and two programs a week are offered. Trying to find more ways to utilize the facility, Jim and Christine have started hosting corporate retreats during the week. This spring several law firms and the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth brought their senior start to the camp to recharge their batteries.

The couple also turned the property’s five-bedroom home of Austin stone and cedar into a lodge for city dwellers seeking a quiet place to commune with nature. Beautifully decorated with antiques and wildlife art, the lodge is anything but rustic. Some of the rooms have Jacuzzis, and a gourmet dinner and breakfast are served.

Despite a nightly rate of $125 to $225, the lodge gets booked months in advance for weekends. Guests can take a private tour or simply sit on the porch, watch the animals, and read.

Judging from the testimonials written in small “diaries” kept in each cabin, the Fossil Rim experience seems to work. “I have been to Africa and safaris from Cape Town all the way up to Ethiopia and know all the animals and conditions,” write Jean and Maury Bennett, of Bettendorf, Iowa, “This is the next best thing to seeing Africa if you can’t he there physically…the tent accommodations are very similar to what I experienced in Africa with a more modern touch.”

Others strike mystical notes. “Pink sunrise our last morning at Fossil Rim,” writes Barbara Shelby Merello of Austin. “Last night, the most magical moonlit ride through the darkness in great high spirits. . .As [naturalists] Claudia and Jay flung handfuls of pellets on the toad, a determined band of big-horned, western-fringed aoudad [sheep] bore down on a crowd of unruly zebras surrealistically striped red and black by the taillight. In the distance a little herd of glimmering white spiral-horned addax and water buck, gemsbok, an Arabian oryx, invisible chee-tahs…Thisisasoul-restoringpIace,know-ing such irreplaceable animals are under such wise, loving care.”

The reactions of visitors to the safari camp reinforce Christine and Jim’s shared belief in the power of nature to help people reconnect with their inner selves and learn the value of conservation.

Jim calls it “nature” or “conservation” tourism, distinguishing the Fossil Rim idea from so-called “eco-tourism,” a hot trend in the travel industry. “Eco-tourism is designed to have a low impact on the ecology,” he says, ’”But it doesn’t necessarily put money back into conservation.” Conservation tourism not only educates travelers about animals and nature, hut funnels funds into programs working to save them. In doing that, it provides jobs that do not impact negatively on the environment.

They see signs that the unorthodox venture is working. Jim says their business was up 7 percent last year, while attendance at zoos around the country was down. Fossil Rim now generates a gross income of about $2-4 million a year. Labor, at $1.4 million, is the biggest expense. Jim estimates that some $700,000 of the money goes back into conservation through the company’s support of breeding programs, both at Fossil Rim and around the world. Though the gap is narrowing, expenses still exceed income by about $300,000 annually.

Last November, in order to determine what direction to take Fossil Rim, Christine and Jim invited 14 friends and colleagues to participate in a “vision quest,” taking as their inspiration the journeys that were once a part of many indigenous cultures around the world. Seekers would go into the wilderness, tasting and questing after a vision for their lives. The group met in a friend’s yurt (a round Mongolian shelter) while a professional “facilitator” who conducts workshops for the Esalen Institute led them through guided visualization and meditation, seeking new ideas for Fossil Rim and for conservation efforts worldwide.

After three days of talking, visualizing, and walking the land together, the answer emerged-not ideas for new programs or a new funding plan, but a group vision: “In 2020, we envision a world where every person is experiencing the inner joy of their connection to nature.” In practical terms, that means Fossil Rim “has to provide a place for city people to reconnect with nature in a spiritual way,” Jim says. “That’s what is powerful about this.”

As Fossil Rim has evolved, Jim and Christine’s relationship has changed as well. In the last two years, Christine has gone on three “vision quests” of her own. Sensitive to native people’s concerns that their sacred practices not be subverted by Westerners, she calls this “wilderness work” or “alone time.” Each time, she went out with a small group of people into the Sierra Nevadas, the high desert of California. After a few days with the group, each person takes water and a few supplies and goes out for five days to fast and meditate alone. The whole process takes 11 days.

“The goal is to empty oneself so one can fill oneself,” she says. “Quieting oneself allows left brain stuff” to quiet down and right brain talents to emerge.”

A major change to emerge from the inward looking has been Jim and Christine’s decision to divorce. Though they’ll remain partners, Christine is assuming day-to-day control of Fossil Rim, and Jim is returning to their old dream of sailing around the world for three years. The split is without rancor, they say. Both remain committed to Fossil Rim, but changes needed to he made.

“I’m probably burned out to some degree,” says Jim. Seven years of 80-plus hours a week is a difficult pace to maintain. “Plus, I’m better at start-up than maintaining something. It’s appropriate timing. We need to develop our programs, and Christine is more into that,” He plans to phase out his involvement with Fossil Rim before setting sail in the Maya, their 74-foot sailboat, sometime this summer.

Christine answers questions about their split in spiritual terms. “Think of two people back-to-back, touching but looking in different directions,” says Christine. “Two people who were absolutely committed to making a difference. But there are different ways of doing things, neither right nor wrong. Yeah, we differ. We’ve also naturally progressed and evolved in a way that’s not any different than it should be. There is a bond of love between Jim and me that nothing, not even a divorce, can break. It’s right for me, for him, and for Fossil Rim.”

In the coming months, they will be looking at ways to move Fossil Rim toward the vision that emerged from the group quest.

One idea is to make the safari camp more closely resemble the African experience, making it more adventurous. Jim says that may mean getting people even closer to the wild animals, walking among them accompanied by armed guides. Another idea is an Indian-type sweat lodge. “We’re selling a fantasy,” Jim says. “We know it.”

“People want lions and tigers and bears,” says public relations director Gail Rankin. “And Jacuzzis,” adds a naturalist.

Christine is skeptical about allowing people to walk among the animals, but agrees that Fossil Rim is selling an experience that can verge on the mystical. Also under consideration are programs offering “vision quest” experiences. Christine, who has taken training in guided meditation, is now doing that with a few groups at Fossil Rim, adapting the concept to allow it to he done in a few hours or a few days, for children or for adults. Her major goal now, she says, is to make Fossil Rim a spiritual catalyst that will help city dwellers recognize the importance of nature in their own lives.

How to pay for it all? Expanding the safari camp, certainly. They have started offering special events throughout the year such as the June “Wolf Howl,” where visitors can participate in a howling contest, a Halloween “Owl Prowl,” and Valentine’s Day moonlight tours. Mountain hiking, “fossil fairs,” and birding workshops have been added; stargazing stints with professional astronomers and trips to Africa are under consideration.

Going public and selling stock is another possibility. “Can you do conservation and still make money for your stockholders?” asks Jim. “Absolutely.” A public corporation could tie Fossil Rim in with other “conservation adventure” sites around the world, such as wildlife preserves in Africa or the International Rhino Foundation in Indonesia. Fossil Rim was one of the founders of the IRF, and Jim was its first president. Such an arrangement has the added benefit of keeping the animals in their home countries and bringing jobs to poor regions where poaching of endangered species for the black market is a problem.

“Today you cannot talk about conservation without talking about people solutions,” Jim says. “Every culture has to find culturally appropriate solutions to its own environmental pressures.”

And is it so crazy to create a business that gives money for good causes? Fossil Rim is reaping the benefits of such an arrangement. To help protect endangered species, Worldwide Communications (WCI), a long-distance phone provider, agreed to give Fossil Rim 10 percent of long-distance charges Fossil Rim supporters incur-money it might have spent on marketing. Fossil Rim supporters get lower long-distance lees, and Fossil Rim gets a percentage of what they spend. It’s a concept they hope other companies will adopt.

From time to time in the last seven years, Christine has thought about selling Fossil Rim and leaving all the headaches and worries to someone else. “But I wouldn’t be able to set aside the curiosity, the question of whether I could have made the difference,” she says.

“This place has a potential that hasn’t been realized yet,” she continues. “I like to continue to push out the borders. We as a species have deadened our senses. We have a lot to learn about the intelligence of nature-the mosaic, the patterns. Fossil Rim has a soul-restoring quality. It’s about soul-restoring for all living beings.”

If the notations in the camp diaries are any indication, visitors agree. One visitor might have been writing with Jim and Christine in his mind.

“Once we find and understand that spiritual bond between mankind and all that has been given life, we can no longer refuse to take responsibility for our actions,” writes one visitor, who signs her name Frances D. “It’s so very easy not to care and just go with the flow, but the path traveled by those with a purpose is a constant battle. You are only fulfilled when you learn to love the struggle.”

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