Wilderness: History and Value

opinion Essay
3253 words
3253 words

Wilderness: History and Value


From the very beginning of this nation's history, wilderness has been a fundamental ingredient. The first European settlers found and battled against it upon their arrival. The western explorers and wagon trains sought to wrestle farmland from the wilderness's grip to build cities, farms and homes. It was not until the reality of its finite availability, that it was viewed as anything other than an opponent and menace. These changing attitudes began a new battle for preservation and protection of the wilderness that remained. The nation's attitude transformation was testimony to a new focus and value for wilderness. This new disposition declared that the preservation and maintenance of wilderness is instrumental to our own emotional, spiritual and biological survival.

The first European settlers began an extensive nation wide war on wilderness upon their arrival on the eastern shore. The war continued for many years and set the tone for America's relationship with its wilderness lands. Many of the nation's first European arrivals brought with them very Puritanical views regarding the appropriateness of order and disorder as well as fundamental Christian views (Kropf, 1997). In their minds, the unsettled and unestablished lands of the New World symbolized lack of order and therefore the absence of God. Along with disorderly lands there existed native inhabitants who, because they had not subdued the land-putting it to strict agricultural use-were innately inferior. All these attributes assigned to the Indians and the wilderness led the early settlers to firmly believe that the wilderness was the dwelling place of Satan. As God fearing Christians, their greatest calling was the elim...

... middle of paper ...

...nd humanity will suffer. Furthermore, the contents of this continent which have shaped and influenced this nation will be forever lost.


Brower, David. (1996). Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run. San Fransisco:

Harper Collins Publishers.

Drabelle, Dennis. (1984, Summer). Feral Explorations. Wilderness, pp.24-26.

Hendee, John C., Stankey, George H., & Lucas, Robert C. (1990). Wilderness

Management. Golden: North American Press.

Kropf, Jesse A., "Images of the Overland Trail and Manifest Destiny: A Distortion of

Reality". History 369: Dan Flores, University of Montana. Spring 1997.

Nash, Roderick. (1967). Wilderness and the American Mind. New Haven: Yale UP.

Nash, Roderick. (1984, Summer). Path to Preservation. Wilderness, 5-11.

Oelschlager, Max. (1991). The Idea of Wilderness. New Haven: Yale University Press.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the nation's attitude transformation was testimony to a new focus and value for wilderness.
  • Explains that the first european settlers began an extensive nation wide war on wilderness upon their arrival on the eastern shore.
  • Explains that explorers set forth, fueled by a notion called manifest destiny, which claimed that the christian dominance of the nation was god ordained.
  • Explains that the wilderness act of 1964 recognized different areas for their remarkable wild and scenic beauty. in 1872, yellowstone was declared the first national park.
  • Analyzes how leopold's influence in new mexico set in motion a movement toward more rigid wilderness preservation guidelines.
  • Explains that the first serious movement toward that goal was the formation of the l-20 regulations in 1929, which was a forest service policy with an accompanying set of management regulations.
  • Explains that the u-regulations tightened protection of approximately 14,000,000 acres of national forest land by designating it into three categories: wilderness, wild areas and roadless areas.
  • Explains that howard zanhiser wrote a wilderness bill and it was revised and resubmitted 66 times. the bill was signed into law by president lyndon b. johnson on september 3, 1964.
  • Explains the definition of wilderness in section 2c of the wilderness act.
  • Defines wilderness as an area of undeveloped land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.
  • Explains that the wilderness act of 1964 was one of the most important milestones in the changing attitude of americans toward their wilderness areas.
  • Opines that wilderness is a great place to connect with the country's past, because of its influence and shaping character toward national identity.
  • Explains that wilderness is a place where the comforts of civilized life aren't found, but is for primitive recreation and minimal human manipulation. wilderness removes civilization and forces one to be self-dependent.
  • Opines that wilderness is a place to reconnect with the non-human world as our culture continues to separate itself from the natural world through industrialization and development.
  • Explains that wilderness is an extremely important value due to its undisturbed nature and its ability to protect endangered plants and animals. wilderness ecosystems are an important source of information and basis for comparing the world around us.
  • Opines that wilderness and unstudied organisms destroy the capacity for new discovery and extension of biological understanding.
  • Explains that large wild areas are needed and essential to animals' survival. wilderness areas may also harbor specific species and be established for that very reason.
  • Opines that wilderness saves humans and animals from one trait of human nature-a desire to master and subdue everything.
  • Argues that environmental ethics and wilderness preservation should be examined in the context of christian faith. biocentrism claims that non-human biological organisms and humans have similar rights.
  • Compares anthropocentrism with the belief that humans are the highest beings and have the most rights to land and resource use. the needs of the natural systems are secondary to the desires of humanity.
  • Argues that anthropocentric management cuts both the biological and human world short by limiting the natural world in the name of human interest.
  • Opines that biocentrism does not fit completely within the scope of biblical teaching. it puts humans on the same level as non-human organisms.
  • Explains that to manage and be stewards of wilderness and other land resources, we must extend the loving respect that the bible instructs, god extends to humans, and who continues to extend to the earth.
  • Cites brower, david, stankey, george h., and lucas, robert c.
Get Access