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The West 2000 Page 4

Git Home! | The West 2000 Page 1

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by the states and other interests. It was not until a compromise was reached in 1984, when Congress enacted new laws establishing wilderness covering nearly nine million acres in 21 states, that the Act really took hold.

Numerous exemptions for uses such as logging, grazing and mining were provided and implemented in the 88 separate wilderness laws enacted by Congress up to 1994, leaving the conclusion that wilderness is defined as whatever Congress says it is.

Nevertheless, the standard definition held by environmentalist groups is that of “areas where the earth is untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

The most radical proposal of The Wildlands Project put forward in 1992 by David Foreman of Earth First! and others suggests that up to 50 percent of the continental United States (most of it in the West) should be restored to a condition dominated by predators and replicating the Pleistocene era, more than 12,000 years ago. Although seeming incredible in its suggestions to limit human habitation to permitted zones within and around the wilderness, the Wildlands Project is reported to have found favorable support within the Clinton administration.

Since reaching a peak soon after the establishment of Wilderness Areas with limited access, recorded visitor use has remained stable or shown a decline in every year, even taking into account additional designated areas. The reintroduction of predators, including wolves, grizzly bears and other carnivores has increased.

The Wildlands Project

• The goal of the Wildlands Project is to set aside approximately 50 percent of the North American continent (Turtle Island) as “wild land” for the preservation of biological diversity.

•The project seeks to do this by creating “reserve networks” across the continent. Reserves are made up of the following:

    •Cores, created from public lands such as National Forests and Parks

    •Buffers, often created from private land adjoining the cores to provide additional protection.

    •Corridors, a mix of public and private lands usually following along rivers and wildlife migration routes.

•The primary characteristics of core areas are that they are large (100,000 to 25 million acres), and allow for little, if any, human use.

•The primary characteristics of buffers are that they allow for limited human use so long as they are “managed with native biodiversity as a preeminent concern.”

•The primary characteristics of buffers are that they allow for limited human use so long as they are “managed with native biodiversity as a preeminent concern.”

•Moral and ethical guidelines for the Wildlands Project are
based on the philosophy of Deep Ecology.

•The eight point platform of Deep Ecology can be summarized as follows:

    •All life (human and non- human) has equal value

    •Resource consumption above what is needed to supply “vital” human needs is

    •Human population must
    be reduced.

    •Western civilization must radically change present eco- nomic, technological and ide- ological structures.

    • Believers have an obliga- tion to try to implement the necessary changes.

•The Wildlands Project itself is supported by hundreds of groups working towards its long-term implementation. Implementation may take 100 years or more.

•The Wildlands Project has received millions of dollars in support from wealthy private and corporate foundations such as the Turner Foundation, Patagonia, W. Alton Jones Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, etc.

As a demographic region of the United States, the West continues to grow at a rate faster than the East, and has certainly established a population base deserving at least of equal consideration to the traditionally held political authority of the original colonies. But population alone is a deceiving figure. Even though the concentration of people on the coasts shows signs today of shifting into less populated areas inland, the limitation of available private land in the West creates zones of urbanized development in concentrated pockets such as Las Vegas, Nev. It is not population growth but population shift that is challenging the West. There is, in short, a bigger difference than ever today in the new westerner who is “all hat, and no cows.”

Those who still gain their livelihood from rural areas, whether they be farmer, rancher, hardware salesman or barber, recognize the change being brought upon them by technology and spendable wealth. The cultural significance of agrarian America, especially in the West, and not for the first time, is at a crossroad.

Note from RANGE

This summary, taken from the web site of the Wildlands Project, is
actually meant to alarm and even frighten. A “big lie” such as
setting aside 50 percent of the continent and reducing human
population has served the purpose of tyrants before in gaining a fraction of what they threatened to take. None of us should be so deceived again, even if there are those in Washington who believe it will work.

Current suggestions and proposals by federal agencies and special interest groups propose expansion of the Wilderness System by at least another 90 million acres, thus incorporating more than 25 percent of all federal lands and nearly 10 percent of all land in the United States as wilderness.

Alaska would contain most of these proposed wilderness lands (up to 55 percent) and the greatest areas of wilderness would be in the western states. Only the states of Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas and Rhode Island have no lands designated or recommended as wilderness.

From the beginning of discussions, the most difficult aspect has been in defining what constitutes “wilderness.” Especially from 1970 when the Forest Service began its Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE I), challenges were presented


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