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For the Love of Wilderness

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, Jan 15, 2023.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Wilderness
    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

    What is Wilderness?


    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 111.7 million acres – more area than the state of California - of public land comprised of more than 803 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.”

    - Proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson upon his signing of The Wilderness Act, September 3rd, 1964

    “…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)

    (from US Forest Service: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/wilderness )
    Scott Patterson, Ram, Dan H and 4 others like this.
  2. a.c

    a.c canyonhermit

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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2023 at 8:53 AM
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Some excellent wordsmithing there, and he has some excellent points to make. Then again, the points he make are philosophic, fun to contemplate, fun to debate, but in the end beside the point. As in, divorced from reality. By his convoluted definition, Wilderness can be found anywhere that the government is ineffective. Your next wilderness trip should be to Kandahar province in Afghanistan - don't plan on it being a long trip.

    And pretty much what I expect from Jim Stiles and the Zephyr. I am pretty sure Stiles HATES eve... well, no. I am VERY sure that Stiles loves to complain about everything. He is a curmudgeon, that is his JOB. He provokes. He pokes. And he postures, but he still lives in Moab, a place where he can complain about everything especially tourists, environmentalists and the modern world, and be treated fondly as a member of the community, a community fully entrenched in modern environmental tourism.

    And yes, this was penned by Loch, your neighbor, not Jim Stiles. Some excellent penmanship in it. Philosophically sharp. Rather divorced from what is actually happening on the ground, here in Utah and in canyoneering specifically. Then again, to this point this thread has been abstract so you may or may not know where I am going with this... "Utah, specifically canyoneering. How it relates to the preservation of Wilderness Qualities as the terms are used in the modern non-curmudgeon world." (I am the curmudgeon in this conversation, so please do not out-curmudgeon me!)

    Tom
    hank moon and kaceythebeluga like this.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  5. a.c

    a.c canyonhermit

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    Tom, I largely agree with your opinion of Stiles. I do, however, appreciate his character for offering a different perspective and more so for his sound journalism. Last I knew he moved out of Moab several years ago and out of Utah a bit more recently; to KS, of all places!

    Given my druthers I'd see much more wilderness on our continent, and beyond. But since this topic is focused on canyoneering and its practitioners I won't rant in the wrong direction.
    By and large I think that canyoneering and many (most?) canyoneers support the preservation of Wilderness qualities, simply because of the human powered nature of the activity. However, I think that those who fly drones and bring similarly intrusive B.S. into the wilds are not supporting those qualities.
    I'd argue that ultimately nature still calls the shots on the entire planet, though more so once one is in the wilds.
    As for adventure, most misuse the word, though some find a truer experience. In canyons we're often very reliant on others beta. If it's insufficient or incorrect because of unexpected changes then true adventure may be what we're in for.
    I think of previously unknown keepers that remain hidden until just the right flood reveals them. Even when we expect them, intentionally descending into a canyon with keepers can definitely give one the chance to get a true sense of self-reliance.
    But when do we draw the line on self-reliance and preserving wilderness qualities before we drill holes for hooks or possibly worse, call SAR? Once they're involved, Wilderness qualities usually take a back seat.
    With regards to the rare species, et al, the hope for them obviously rests on the preservation of their habitat and if applicable, corridors that connect similar habitats. This alone is not enough for some canyon dependent species. It might require sacrifice on part of canyoneers in the form of seasonal or possibly permanent closures. While humans are arguably an integral part of most ecosystems, I have my doubts about our role in slot canyon ecology and our introduction of synthetic pollutants (e.g. neoprene, sunscreen, etc.).
    ratagonia likes this.
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