I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness -Aldo Leopold
When I took this internship and the one before it the fact that I was being sponsored by the SCA wasn’t particularly relevant. The Student Conservation Association didn’t really mean anything to me. I never knew what it was about, it was just a means to fund my life so I could go take shots of wildlife. It was pretty much the same for the NPS. I had no idea what role the NPS played in scientific research, education, and conservation. To me the NPS was just a place that charged people to look at pretty scenery. While it might be common sense, it never occurred to me that they were protecting something. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which use to be just some piece of paper some president signed before my time. Now I can’t go 2 days without hearing or seeing some reference to it. While I never actually knew what any of things were or meant two years ago I’ve been grateful for them my whole life.
Last week I spent three wonderful days with 12 women out in Denali’s wilderness as part of an Alaska Geographic course. These women conquered mountains, crossed rivers, and stared down bears. They faced their fears. At the start of the program, the leader asked everyone what they were scared of. Quite a few women said bears. The next day while hiking a bear popped up over a ridge not a hundred yards from us. When was the last time you announced your fears to a group of strangers and then went out and face it? These women were badass. A few women had a different sort of fear. They fear a world with no wilderness. I share this fear. I would not want to live in a world where I could get away from people and skyscrapers. But the flip side is that if people keep visiting these wild places how long will it stay wild? Here’s an interesting article that discusses the potential problem ahead.