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The Enduring Wilderness: Protecting Our Natural Heritage through the Wilderness Act (Speaker's Corner Series) Paperback – August 1, 2004
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...A must for ordinary citizens who care about saving our wilderness heritage for future generations. Hopeful, practical, and compelling. -- Christopher Reeve
...call to action for all who desire to see wilderness preserved for future generations to experience and appreciate... -- Dennis Madsen, President and CEO, Recreational Equipment Inc (REI)
An essential volume for everyone who wants to help save an enduring resource of wilderness. -- William H. Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society
Holy, Holy, Holy! -- Kurt Vonnegut
Our generation...has an obligation to preserve...more areas that qualify for wilderness designation. -- Theodore Roosevelt IV, from the Foreword
The Enduring Wilderness is well-written, convincing the reader to leave it wild. -- Cindy Shogan, Alaska Wilderness League
From the Publisher
Speaker's Corner Books is a provocative new series designed to stimulate, educate, and foster discussion on significant public policy topics.Written by experts in a variety of fields, these brief and engaging books should be read by anyone interested in the trends and issues that shape our society.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Doug Scott's "The Enduring Wilderness" is refreshing because not only is it a meticulously detailed account of how the National Wilderness Preservation System came into being and how wilderness areas are added to the System, but it also demonstrates that it is members of Congress and the American public from all across the political spectrum that deserve credit for growing the System to its current size of 107 million acres. Scott makes the case well that wilderness protection truly is an all-Amercian value. "The Enduring Wilderness" is a must read for those who value our wilderness whether you're a Democrat, Republican or Independent.
Scott has written an admirable little book. It is short (154 pages of text, with wide margins and lots of sidebar quotes taking up space), so you shouldn't expect an in-depth history of wilderness policy. However, he packs a lot of information in that space. He provides a brief overview of attitudes toward wilderness from Teddy Roosevelt through Aldo Leopold and others in the 1920s and 1930s. After this, his story takes us through the Wilderness Act of 1964 and then into current debates over wilderness.
The centerpiece of his story is the question of statutory protection. Establishing a wilderness in the US requires an act of Congress and can be undone only by a similar act of Congress. This differs from other imaginable procedures, such as presidential decree or management agency discretion. Scott shows us why wilderness advocates came to believe that statutory protection was better than agency discretion, even if the agency was broadly sympathetic. He also argues that wilderness advocates were initially wrong in hoping for agency-based decisions subject only to congressional veto. Taking sole initiative away from agencies provided an incentive for grassroots citizen movements, which he believes has served the cause of wilderness well.
As you can see from my preceding paragraph, Scott gives us enough information so that we can disagree with him - - an admirable trait in any piece of advocacy. A mountain biker could read this book to understand why Scott's vision of wilderness excludes bicycles, and could also find common ground with Scott on preserving natural areas. This mountain biker would also gain insight into political strategies for protecting bike trails effectively.
Wilderness areas can be found in land managed by the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Though he doesn't make a big deal out of the differences across agencies - - after all, he has to work with these people - - it's clear that some agencies are easier to work with than others. He makes a friendly plea for the NPS to rethink how it approaches wilderness, for example.
Seeing the past century of wilderness policy also raises questions about our current dilemmas. Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, was our greatest conservationist president. Important legislation passed under Nixon and Ford. The younger Bush, in contrast, is extraordinarily hostile to wilderness. Bush has the support of most of the western states in which wilderness lies, though individual counties voted for Kerry (Teton County, Wyoming; Glacier County, Montana; and most of the ski areas in Colorado). Wilderness advocates need to make coalitions that include these voters, and current strategies don't seem to be working. Scott's next book might address some of these challenges.
The second half of the book, starting with Chapter 5, gets more interesting as Scott turns to the modern politics of conservation that have been embodied by citizen requests for protection of their valued wild areas. We learn that every president has approved additions to America's protected wilderness, even GWB, and that this has always been accomplished through bipartisan compromise. As proven in poll after poll, the majority of Americans, from all walks of life and political stances, favor the protection of wilderness. This knowledge is a valuable side effect of this book, in that Scott shows us that the American government has always had a strong sense of compromise and pragmatism, which has proven to be more effective than the divisiveness and narrow ideological posturing that you might think have swamped government processes, thanks to loudmouthed pundits and sound bite media coverage. I have met Doug Scott at a speaking engagement, and I feel that anyone who loves wilderness as an American tradition should become familiar with his works. [~doomsdayer520~]