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The Wilderness System Isn't Broken and Doesn't Need Fixing

WithM. Rupert Cutler

The National Audubon Society began its seventy-seven year history of activity by acquiring sanctuaries and encouraging the federal government to do the same. Audubon sanctuaries are wildlife management areas administered more like the National Wildlife Refuge System than the National Wilderness Preservation System. Excessive population growth is not the only explanation for resource scarcity offered by environmentalists. Perverse government incentives have resulted in the loss of genetic diversity, paving and flooding of prime farmland, and abandonment of urban central business districts. Wilderness areas have been open to exploration, claim and patent. Where high mineralization was known, as in the primitive areas of southwestern Colorado and more recently in the new Misty Fjords and Admiralty Island wildernesses in Alaska, boundaries were adjusted to exclude the highly mineralized zones. Public-agency bureaucrats come in for a lot of condemnation by John A. Baden and Dean Lueck, who characterize them as empire builders.