chapter  7
13 Pages

Wilderness Management

WithWilliam C. Everhart

An interesting thing about the term “wilderness” is that Park Service people seldom use the word. Rangers, who shy away from literary pretense, stick with “backcountry” as their workday designation. Perhaps so, but the finite wilderness has been regarded as the corrective for the maladies of civilization ever since Henry David Thoreau and the transcendentalists came to accept the presence of divinity in nature. Leaving aside for a moment the importance of wilderness in God’s scheme of things, one is struck by the considerable disagreement that has always existed over the question of where wilderness can be found. In 1960 Wallace Stegner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and biographer, sent a letter to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission as his contribution to that body’s nationwide examination of recreational needs. Yellowstone, initially, was established not to preserve wilderness, but to protect remarkable thermal and geologic wonders; Congress surrounded the relatively small area occupied by these features with a huge 3,500-square-mile preserve.