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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wilderness: An idea that needs no defense, only defenders.

The United States is coming up on the golden anniversary of one of its best ideas. In 2014, the Wilderness Act will turn 50 years old. Today some take the idea of setting aside lands so that natural forces could take the course for granted. But in 1964 setting aside land to remain untrammeled where humans were merely visitors was a radical idea.

The wilderness system has grown from roughly 9 million acres in 1964, to nearly 110 million acres today. While that number seems impressive its only about 5 percent of the entire United States landmass. Further, the system includes large acres of snow and ice wilderness and is lacking in low elevation forests and grasslands.

Some bemoan the idea of wilderness, arguing that the land is "locked up" for no benefit. This is not the case. Protecting ecosystems and their natural processes provide numerous benefits including environmental, economic, social health, and scientific discoveries.

The national park service recently released a beautiful video on the wilderness act and the ideal it protects. Check it out here.

The wilderness act was a far sighted promise to future generation that some areas would be protected. Some areas would be left untrammeled so that future citizens could enjoy the benefits of clean air and water, solitude, natural soundscapes, healthily lifestyles, robust wildlife populations, sound economies, and scientific discoveries.

What are your thoughts on wilderness? Was it a good idea to set aside some lands for permanent protection?

Look for my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell to be out soon.

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