Saturday, September 13, 2014

#257 / Fifty Years Of The Wilderness Act

Public Law 88-577 (16 U.S. C. 1131-1136), establishing the federal Wilderness Act, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964. That means that the Wilderness Act is fifty years old this year. Lots of celebrations are taking place. Lots of people are reflecting on what this law has meant, and means. 

By way of celebration, tickets may still be available for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, sponsored by the Ventana Wilderness Alliance. The festival is taking place this evening, September 13th, at the Golden State Theater in Monterey. Adam Scott, a television and movie star who was born and raised in Santa Cruz, will be the MC. Click here to order tickets (if any are still left)!

By way of reflection, I liked what Rebecca Oreskes (pictured) has to say. Oreskes spent over twenty years working for the Forest Service in a variety of positions devoted to wilderness stewardship. She is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Wilderness and currently lives and writes in Milan, New Hampshire.

For those who think of wilderness as simply areas set aside from human influence, climate change is perhaps proof that the idea of wilderness is absurd at best. There is no doubt, now, that our imprint is literally everywhere. But as I walk through the cool damp of the Great Gulf, I am convinced that wilderness is not about setting aside a geographic area and keeping it free from all human activity. Rather, it is about delineating a relationship. Wilderness celebrates a relationship to the land in which we are not at the center.

Wilderness celebrates a relationship to the land in which we are not at the center.

Two Worlds: And while we are at the center of the human world that we construct, we are not at the center of the World of Nature, upon which we ultimately depend. The Wilderness Act (and the Wilderness we set aside, utilizing its provisions) reminds us of this right relation.

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