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A recent op ed in the NYT suggested the Wilderness Act is Facing a Midlife Crisis. The basic idea is that some people are considering an update based on what we've learned in the fifty years since the Wilderness Act was passed.


Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness (east face Longs Peak) photo Wiki

The impetus for this blaspheme is that scientists now realize the natural world does not exist in a natural state of equilibrium. Wilderness as all natural places is now and always  has been in a state of change, what ecologists call "flux".

In recent decades,,,,,  several pillars upon which the act was built have eroded. One is the idea of “naturalness,” that nature exists in some unadulterated state apart from humans. Work in paleoecology and other fields has shown that humans have shaped many of the ecosystems on the planet for thousands of years (and not always to their detriment). Research has also dismantled ideas about a stable, primeval world. Nature is always in flux.
And then there's climate change.
Faced with such change, “there’s increased recognition that the paradigm has to change,” said Cat Hawkins Hoffman, the national climate change adaptation coordinator for the National Park Service, which manages 40 percent of America’s wilderness acreage.

“The real conundrum is, how much manipulation in wilderness is acceptable in order to protect the values for which the wilderness was established,” she added.

In short, we need to accept our role as reluctant gardeners.

The article goes on to suggest many familiar areas that will likely go through changes with flora and fauna needing intervention in order to stay similar to what we see today. J Tree, Tuolumne Meadows, The Bobs, giant sequoias, etc. J-Tree National Park,and the Giant Sequoias National Park, would be very different without the species they are named after, and parts of both Parks are legal Wilderness.  Wilderness has fairly strong protections, most activities involving wheels or motors or buildings or roads are not allowed.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 03:59:58 PM PDT

  •  Change is the only constant in life (5+ / 0-)

    however, we need more wilderness in this country, not less. just 5% of the countries protected land is wilderness, and most of that is in Alaska. the percent that is wilderness should be closer to 20% if not more. there are 22 states without any monuments, and Maine for example has the North Woods, an enormous 10.5 million acre forest, most of which should be protected and a good chunk of that should be wilderness. we have neglected the Eastern states, since most of the areas that could once have been monuments or wilderness there have long since become too developed to be either.

    •  The east is mostly private land (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GAS, lgmcp, FarWestGirl

      Also usually for Wilderness the place is supposed to show little signs of humans.

      A conservation org I belong to buys private land and gives it to the government, usually we look for areas crucial to wintering grounds for large ungulates, the idea being that summer range is large but there are few places low enough and warm enough for winter.

      I notice Isle Royal is Wilderness, and that place between timber and copper was fairly worked over. Maybe some of West Virginia or the Appalachians.

      Most Wilderness and National Forest and BLM remains without people on it. Just on the trails and roads. I like Forest and BLM, less attraction for people. Without full hookups for RVs and Interpretive Centers most places don't see much use. No trails I like best.

      “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

      by ban nock on Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 06:03:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. 96% of Maine is private, although (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, GAS, FarWestGirl

        efforts are underway to protect much of the North Woods, as Maine is heavily reliant of tourism and forestry. with the timber companies dividing up once huge blocks of land into smaller pieces , efforts are underway to buy up as much as possible there. i could see as much as 10 million acres of the woods protected eventually, it will be a lengthy process inviolving conservation groups, wiling buyers and the feds helping out with cash. i figure 30 billion- or 3000 an acre- would be a reasonable price to pay to the current owners, with the north woods, it retains the remote nature due t the timber companies locking up the land in large blocks. while some areas have been clearcut, restoration efforts there could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.

      •  I hear you re development of tourist amenities (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, FarWestGirl

        but the trouble with BLM designation is that land is traditionally managed primarily for the beneift of extractive industries.  

        For instance, a huge fracking boom is about to start all across the Four Corners area, particularly in BLM areas around Chaco Canyon.  It's beautiful, wild, and empty out there, but soon to be very polluted.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Sun Jul 13, 2014 at 10:21:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  polluted how? You mean new roads? I live in an (0+ / 0-)

          intensively fracked county, sometimes a lot of what you read here at Daily Kos is just so much bullshit. Fracking costs lots of fresh water and puts wear and tear on roads and infrastructure, we've had zero problems with our groundwater and even a huge flood that covered much of the county and many of the existing wells did no measurable damage due to oil production. Fracking means lots of heavy trucks on the roads, millions of gallons of fresh water, that's about it. Look upon it as doing your part to power the air conditioning of all those Kossacks going to Detroit.

          “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

          by ban nock on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 06:23:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It might not harm the groundwater (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            i saw an old tree today

            but then again it most definitely might.  And the folks who live in that area are already bearing the brunt of emissions from coal-fired power plants and uranium tailings, and some very significant health problems related to them.  

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 09:07:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  in this case, most of the land should not be (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp

          managed by BLm, but by the Park Service forest Service and Fish and wildlife Service. all 4 agencies need much larger budgets to carry out their mission, 20 billion a year isnt too much

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