Since 1970, the purpose of Earth Day has changed from one day each year when corporate polluters were exposed (what corporations should do), to a celebration of the personal (what you can do). Today’s bland, uncontroversial event typically features everything from 5k runs to esoteric spiritualties, but almost always carefully avoids any discussion of local polluters or environmental bad actors. If environmentalism is mentioned at all it is confined to climate change and recycling. The fierce green warrior has been replaced by the frugal green consumer now focused laser-like on the grass-fed beef at the local farmers’ market.
The original ideas and arguments organizers used to create roadless wilderness were created by New York’s Bob Marshall. All our ideas about the value of wilderness began with him. If we ever have to mobilize to save public lands, or if we want to create more of it we need to revisit his arguments that motivated the country to acquire it in the first place. Unfortunately, in the last 50 years many of his arguments have been lost and forgotten, but they worked well once and will work again if we can recover and reintroduce them into the next generation’s advocacy conversation.
From the 1930s through the ’70s, the arguments used to persuade voters that roadless wilderness must be preserved, originated in Bob Marshall’s 1930 essay, “The Problem of the Wilderness.” In that essay, parts of which ended up in the 1964 Wilderness Act, he creatively explained the many diverse and marvelous reasons the preservation of roadless wilderness was essential if mankind’s basic humanity and civilization itself were to survive.
Today’s forest protection advocates are the sixth generation of wilderness activists. This is an attempt to abstract the rules, lessons and insights from successful and unsuccessful wilderness campaigns of the past and particularly the Adirondack wilderness campaigns of the 1930’s through 1950’s which were waged with a fire seldom seen since.
If we are to return to a world where the preservation of roadless, motorless Wilderness has the enthusiastic, informed support of a majority of the population, I think the following rules can guide us there. » Continue Reading.
In 1892 the New York State Legislature created the Adirondack Park and in 1894 placed “Forever Wild” forest protection into the State Constitution. Thus began a process of wilderness protection for what today covers thousands of lakes and millions of acres of forests.
During the following sixty years however, there were scores of determined efforts by developers, local governments, and subsequent legislatures to weaken that protection to promote mining, logging, hydroelectric power, roads, commercial recreation and off-road access by jeeps, snowmobiles, floatplanes and motorboats. To repel these threats, America’s first modern grassroots wilderness protection campaigns began. » Continue Reading.
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