Tremendous Value Rests in Untamed Places
“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.”
-Excerpt from The Wilderness Act of 1964
Think about where you are at this very moment, reading these words. Think about the land beneath your feet, under your seat, and right outside your window. Chances are that your current location is like much of the rest of our planet today - dramatically altered and under the direct control of human beings, utterly unrecognizable in terms of its prehistoric qualities. These changes might have improved your current comfort, but something valuable and increasingly rare has been lost in the taming of where you are now.
Consider your dependence on technology in your day to day life. How reliant are you on motorized or mechanized vehicles for your transportation needs? How long has it been since you’ve been without an outlet to charge your smartphone? How much do you depend on your furnace when it’s cold and your air conditioner when it’s hot? How able are you to thrive in the absence of grocery stores and permanent shelter? Are skills like these even relevant in your daily routine?
Wilderness is the exception.
The National Wilderness Preservation System is a network of over 109 million acres – more area than the state of California - of public land comprised of more than 760 wilderness areas administered for the American people by the federal government. These are special places where nature still calls the shots. Places where people like you, with an appetite for adventure, can find a sense of true self-reliance and experience solitude. They are final holdout refuges for a long list of rare, threatened, and endangered species, forced to the edges by modern development. They are the headwaters of critical, life-infusing rivers and streams. They are places where law mandates above all else that wildness be retained for our current generation, and those who will follow.
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
“…I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)