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Thank you for the generous introduction. It’s a pleasure and a privilege come be right here today.
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As you know, I served as regional forester for the forest Service’s Northern an ar in Montana and also northern Idaho prior to being named as Forest organization Chief. For this reason it’s a distinct pleasure come be ago in this part of the country, which ns still regard together my home.
This component of the nation has specifically rich wilderness heritage. Montana has 15 wilderness locations with end 3.5 million acres of wilderness. It is an area larger than part states. The Selway‒Bitterroot Wilderness alone is virtually the dimension of Delaware.
So civilization in this part of the nation are keenly aware of the prominence of wilderness, and I commend the university of Montana because that holding this lecture collection on the value of wilderness and the challenges associated with keeping it.
What ns would like to carry out today is to start with a tiny wilderness history. I think friend will check out that the forest Service and also wilderness are closely intertwined. Then ns will talk about some that the challenges facing wilderness in the unified States. Finally, i will rundown the technique that the Forest company is taking to meet the challenges.
Early conservation Movement
The Forest service is more than a century old. Us were started in 1905, not lengthy after the chronicler Frederick Jackson Turner announced the closing of the west frontier. The frontier was always a ar of wide-open spaces and also unlimited resources. Now that the frontier to be closing, Americans were growing more aware that our organic resources to be limited—and that we were losing them.
The fate that the buffalo to be one noticeable sign. The American bison once roamed through the millions indigenous the Rockies to the east woodlands; early american explorers found bison together far east as what is now Washington, DC. However by 1900, the bison was all over extinct except in tiny parts that the an excellent Plains.
And the exact same thing was happening v America’s forests. In ~ the rotate of the 20th century, world still assumed of forests as an inexhaustible resource. Small thought was provided to reforestation, much less to sustainable forestry. In the native of the early on conservationist and forester Gifford Pinchot, “To waste hardwood was a virtue and not a vice. … The lumbermen … regarded forest devastation as normal and 2nd growth as the delusion of fools.”
As a result, rampant deforestation was underway, just as that is in some emerging countries today. From 1630 to the early 20th century, America lost about a quarter of its whole forest estate, mostly in the East; and two-thirds of the loss come in the period following the polite War.
In an excellent part, it is why conservation was born. People like chairman Theodore Roosevelt … prefer John Muir … prefer Gifford Pinchot, who went on to end up being the first Forest business Chief … world like these, the beforehand conservationists, sounded the alarm. V their efforts, the first protected areas were set aside—the very first national parks … the first wildlife refuges … the an initial forest reserves, which ended up being the nationwide forests. Through their efforts, the very first conservation agencies were formed, consisting of my agency, the woodland Service.
We at the Forest service were in the head of what might be called the early on wilderness movement. Although us didn’t contact it wilderness back then, the wildness of the American frontier was part of what us were protecting ~ above the nationwide forests.
That’s due to the fact that wilderness is key to our cultural heritage as Americans. One of the an excellent American authors of the West was Wallace Stegner, and also he placed it this way: “We require wilderness maintained …because it to be the difficulty against which ours character together a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance the it is still there is an excellent for our spiritual health also if we never ever once in 10 years collection foot in it.”
Wilderness is component of that we space as a people, and also from the very outset the Forest organization was committed to protecting America’s wilderness heritage. The young foresters that went to work-related for the forest Service much more than a century back were crawl on wilderness values. Among them was Aldo Leopold, who started his career with the forest Service and worked because that the firm for 17 years, greatly in the forest Service’s Southwestern Region.
In 1909, the young Aldo Leopold can still rejoice in experiencing, as he placed it, “wild nation to it is in in,” wherein “there to be grizzlies in every significant mountain mass.” together you know, that’s no longer true in the reduced 48 states, although thankfully it still is up on the Bob.
But Leopold witnessed the wildness vanishing prior to his eyes. The “blank point out on the map,” together he called them, to be disappearing, also on the nationwide forests. Leopold worked tirelessly to save one of the last remaining empty spots in the an ar where he worked: the Gila flow headwaters in brand-new Mexico.
His efforts paid off. In 1924, the Forest business established the first wilderness area anywhere in the world, the Gila Wilderness top top the Gila nationwide Forest. The was 40 years before the Wilderness Act.
At around the exact same time, Arthur Carhart—another Forest service employee—was additionally working because that wilderness protection. In 1926, partially thanks to his efforts, one more area to be designated for distinct protection. Today, we understand it as the border Waters Canoe Area ~ above the remarkable National forest in Minnesota.
That very same year, in 1926, Forest organization Chief wilhelm Greeley initiated the very first inventory the roadless areas. The list was limited to areas larger 보다 230,400 acres. The Forest business identified 74 together tracts, totaling 55 million acres.
By the 1930s, the wilderness movement was thriving. However Forest organization regulations because that designating and also managing wilderness locations remained reasonably weak till 1939. That’s when Bob Marshall—yet one more Forest company employee—drafted much tougher regulations for protecting wilderness areas.
Aldo Leopold and also Bob Marshall, joined by a few others, established the Wilderness culture in 1935. By 1964, with support from the society, the Forest company had set aside 9 million acres of wilderness. But there was something missing: a usual standard that wilderness management. Also, because wilderness designations received only bureaucratic protections, they can be reversed. Wilderness was far from secure.
In the 1940s and 1950s, roadways penetrated many of America’s last continuing to be “blank clues on the map” for timber to support our troops during human being War II and, later, to aid realize the American dream of owning a single-family home. Countless acres of potential wilderness to be lost.
In 1964, congress passed the Wilderness Act, providing permanent protection for wilderness areas. The Wilderness Act claims in a couple of eloquent words the what we have actually today is worth maintaining for future generations—that a wilderness is, and also I quote, “an area where the earth and its neighborhood of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor that does not remain.”
Leopold, Marshall, Carhart, the drafters that the Wilderness Act—we room privileged this day to enjoy the benefits of their foresight. With the nationwide Wilderness conservation System, we developed an interagency frame for wilderness management. Due to the fact that 1964, the nationwide Wilderness conservation System has grown from 9 million acre to 110 million acres, an area bigger than California.
Today, we have more than 750 wilderness locations in 44 states and Puerto Rico, from the 6-acre Pelican Island Wilderness in north Florida to the 9-million-acre Wrangell‒St. Elias Wilderness in Alaska. The Forest organization alone manages around 60 percent of the wilderness acreage in the reduced 48 states. Around 18 percent the the National forest System is designated wilderness.
So we have actually a record of success, however we also face incredible challenges, not just in wilderness areas, but throughout landscapes of all kinds.Climate readjust is gradually disrupting whole ecoregions, moving plant and animal assemblages for generations to come. As soon as the climate changes, countless things change with it: temperature, precipitation, snowpack size, and also runoff.Add to this population growth, land usage changes, water shortages, water pollution, wait pollution, invasive species, and a organize of other challenges, and also America’s land supervisors are in a whole brand-new problem environment.
Already, we are seeing significant disturbances—devastating droughts, substantial wildfires, and also widespread insect outbreaks. All these stresses and also disturbances room affecting America’s forests and also grasslands on an extraordinary scale.
Wilderness encounters special challenges, few of them including visitor use, others entailing invasive species, tho others including climate change. A standard example below in Montana is high-elevation five-needle pines, such together whitebark pine.
Whitebark jaw is critical food resource for Douglas squirrel. The squirrel caches cap in middens that grizzlies usage for food in the spring, as soon as other food resources are scarce.
Whitebark pine tree propagates v seed caching through Clark’s nutcrackers in openings developed by wildland fires. Wildland fire also keeps out competing shade-tolerant tree such together subalpine fir. Whitebark pine tree is as such threatened through fire exclusion.
Another danger is one invasive species, an exotic disease known together white pine tree blister rust. Whitebark jaw is additionally threatened by mountain pine beetle spreading to greater elevations as result of climate change. You deserve to see numerous dead whitebark pines up on the Selway‒Bitterroot, because that example.
Whitebark jaw illustrates the intricacy of the obstacles we face in controlling wilderness. The pine depends on a internet of interrelated organisms and also processes including grizzly bear and wildland fire, and the balance is being disrupted through indirect person impacts.
Restoration is key. Healthy, long lasting forests and grasslands carry out a whole range of benefits to Americans—clean air and also water, carbon sequestration, habitat for indigenous fish and also wildlife, erosion control and soil renewal, methods for out recreation, and also more. Our task at the Forest organization is to assist sustain the capacity of America’s forests and also grasslands, both public and private, to supply a full range of values and benefits for generations come come.
That’s why restoration is so important for the woodland Service. We no longer focus on momentary outputs, such together board feet of hardwood … or mile of road developed … or pet unit months for grazing. Yes, us still measure these things, but they room not our goal. Our goal is to gain back healthy, sturdy ecosystems—ecosystems qualified of transferring all the benefits and values the Americans want and also need, both now and also for generations come come.
Everyone benefits from restoration. Healthy, sturdy ecosystems carry out intangible values, such as scenic beauty and habitat because that wildlife; and the occupational we have to do to restore healthy and balanced forests additionally provides material values, such together clean water, jobs, and wood fiber for prospering local economies. Three-quarters of the timber created from the national forests is currently the byproduct of tasks for other purposes, such together restoration; one research has displayed that every million dollars invested on restoration activities like stream repair or road decommissioning generates from 12 come 28 jobs, i m sorry compares favorably to many other financial activities. Restoration is good for the economy, and by repairing our green infrastructure it is also great for communities. Reconstruction is where the social, economic, and environmental sides of sustainability come together, because that the advantage of anyone concerned.
And wilderness has actually a an important role to play in restoration. Of course, we are limited in the straight actions we deserve to take to reclaim wilderness areas. But we can regularly restore wildland fire to fire-adapted ecosystems in wilderness areas. And also that, in an excellent part, is what we must do come protect and restore whitebark pine.
And, because direct human effects are low in wilderness areas, these locations have lot to teach us about restoration through mindful monitoring and scientific study.Wilderness areas can carry out baselines for how climate readjust and its results are affecting organic systems … for how fire regimes affect natural systems … because that how eco-friendly processes role in organic systems, consisting of hydrological processes and also interactions in between predators and also prey.Wilderness locations can also provide baseline procedures for ecosystem wellness that we can use to help restore degraded ecosystems elsewhere.But as the fate that whitebark pine shows, even wilderness locations can be topic to environmental degradation. We have received numerous proposals for taking activity to gain back wilderness ecosystems, and also our researchers are arising a decision framework incorporating law and policy, eco-friendly understanding, and ethical considerations.
As forest health proceeds to decline, especially outside that wilderness areas, the importance of wilderness will just grow.Already, the wilderness areas managed by the woodland Service carry out 5 percent the the water it is provided in the lower 48 states, even though they consist of less 보다 3 percent that the floor area. Their prominence for water purification and delivery is growing.So is their prominence for biodiversity and also as refuges for wildlife in general and also for threatened and also endangered types in particular. Because that example, varieties such together grizzly, lynx, wolf, and wolverine deserve to be found in enough numbers for clinical study just in wilderness and roadless areas.
New Wilderness Designations
So why don’t us have much more designated wilderness? We currently have one area that wilderness bigger than California, but over half of the is in Alaska. In the reduced 48 states, about 2.7 percent of the floor area is designated wilderness. It is an area around the dimension of Minnesota.
So an ext than 97 percent of our land area in the lower 48 is open to uses of all kinds. A the majority of it is defended from development, but it is not defended as wilderness. And that can be a concern, since once you use wilderness because that something else, the is gone forever.
America has actually the capacity to turn wilderness right into timberland, timberland right into farmland, and farmland into a to buy mall. We likewise have the capacity, as the national woodlands in the east so drastically show, to reclaim degraded lands come healthy, long lasting forests. We can use those restored forests for recreation, because that clean water, for wildlife … because that a whole range of values and benefits.
But, together Aldo Leopold knew, we can never again usage the land because that wilderness, not within our lifetimes, not within the lifetimes of our great-great-grandchildren. As Leopold placed it, “Wilderness is a resource which have the right to shrink yet not grow.”
Meanwhile, advancement pressures space rising. By 2060, America’s population could prosper to fifty percent a billion people, and we could see a net forest loss on private land of up to 37 million acres. By 2030, we also expect to see housing thickness grow on about 57 million acres of private woodland land.
Many housing breakthroughs will be intermixed v public lands. That will certainly promote land supplies incompatible with wilderness, such together impoundments, energy corridors, transport corridors, and job-creating tasks like mining and timber harvest. Populace growth and an innovation development will certainly promote demand for outdoor recreation that is incompatible with wilderness, such as motorized uses. The growing wildland/urban interface will additionally promote concerns about restrictions on fire suppression. It will promote a publicly desire for maintaining all alternatives open quite than designating one area as wilderness.
Fortunately, us still have actually a the majority of “blank spaces top top the map,” together the forest Service’s roadless area inventories have shown. Montana alone has actually over 6 million acres of roadless areas on the nationwide forests. But our document of giving those empty spaces long-term protection is spotty. Because 1983, end a dozen bills have been presented in conference for additional wilderness in Montana, and not one has been signed into law.
As component of our woodland planning process, each unit in the National woodland System closely assesses roadless areas for wilderness suitability. The Flathead National woodland is at this time revising its woodland plan, through wilderness testimonial as vital element. Councilor Jon Tester has introduced the forest Jobs and also Recreation Act, which would certainly designate end 642,000 acre of extr wilderness, including around 577,000 acre on three nationwide forests. The Rocky hill Front heritage Act, introduced by councilor Max Baucus, would add second 67,000 acre to the wilderness system. The management supports both bills.
But what about the wilderness areas we already have? The obstacles of controlling wilderness are climbing while our budgets room shrinking. Air and water contaminants are a challenge; noise and adjacent development space a challenge; invasive varieties are a substantial challenge. The condition of wilderness trails is deteriorating, and fire use in wilderness areas can it is in contentious.
The key to sound wilderness monitoring is solid partnerships. The challenges we face in wilderness management go past the capacity of any kind of one company to fulfill alone. Fortunately, us have numerous outstanding partners. The nationwide Wilderness Preservation system depends top top partnerships among the four federal agencies charged with controlling wilderness. We work-related with our companion agencies—the national Park Service, BLM, and the Fish and Wildlife Service—to develop complementary program to satisfy our mutual responsibilities because that wilderness stewardship.
We execute that in a couple of ways:One means is with the Aldo Leopold Wilderness research study Institute and Arthur Carhart national Wilderness cultivate Center. These interagency systems generate the shared understanding needed for wilderness stewardship, and they transmit it to our supervisors in a means that keeps us all top top the exact same page.At the field level, wilderness managers from all 4 agencies share every little thing from trail construction techniques, to security protocols, come backcountry recipes. We have an interagency cadre the wilderness managers and also rangers who are truly specialized to their stewardship responsibilities. They are the backbone of our wilderness program.
We additionally depend on partner organizations, NGOs and also others, favor the Montana Wilderness Association, to administer many that the sources we must get certain work done—trail work, for example. There are likewise important wilderness organizations right here at the college of Montana. That includes the university’s very own Wilderness Institute and its Wilderness and Civilization Program, component of the extensively respected university of Forestry and also Conservation under the leadership of Dean Jim Burchfield.
Research underpins all of our monitoring decisions in the forest Service, consisting of our wilderness management, and also I can’t stress that enough. Recreational usage is what our wilderness supervisors probably invest the many time on, and also our scientists have emerged a whole body that wilderness recreation research. We look at fads in recreational use and users and how to much better manage conflicting demands.
Our researchers are also studying the duty of wild land fire in shaping wilderness ecosystems. Because that example, we studied exactly how fires burning in 3 wilderness areas reduced the intensity and size the future fires, thereby showing exactly how fire use is a cost-effective fuels treatment. Us are additionally evaluating exactly how climate readjust will impact fire regimes.
Our scientists have functioned with wilderness managers to develop Keeping it Wild, a process for assessing and also monitoring wilderness character. The Leopold academy is occurring methods the mapping wilderness character and showing where the various components of wilderness personality are located in every wilderness, and also they space working v wilderness supervisors to address an adverse trends.
Another activity that we are very proud that is our job-related with the Salish Kootenai college not much north that here. The university is trying to obtain accredited together a forestry school, and our researchers are helping out in every method we can.
50th Anniversary Celebration
We space using the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness act not only to storage wilderness, but likewise to emphasis national attention on the challenges associated with wilderness management. In Washington, DC, there will certainly be briefings entailing wilderness NGO staff, federal employees, and Capitol Hill staff. There will likewise be learning/training sessions, receptions honoring conference champions, and meetings through Hill staff.
Here in the north Rockies, in enhancement to this speak series, there will be wilderness walks, a photograph contest, picnics v demos, ar gatherings, and also lots more. Ours scientists and their study partners room working with each other on a special edition that the newspaper of Forestry devoted to 50 year of achievements in wilderness science.
The Forest service has detailed each the our regional offices with capital specifically for use in celebrate the 50th anniversary that the Wilderness Act. We have actually a variety of occasions planned at the national, regional, and also local levels, and also before closing ns will point out a couple.
In September, we will certainly be participating in D.C. Wilderness Week. There will certainly be a number of events giving grassroots wilderness proponents from across the nation an chance to affix with peers, find out from experts, and meet with members the Congress.
In October, there will certainly be a national Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque, new Mexico. This will certainly be an event over multiple days, special presentations, panels, exhibits, field trips, and also workshops concentrating on recent developments and emerging issues in wilderness stewardship. We space helping come organize the event, and many of our employees will certainly be there. Ns am looking front to speaking there, along with leaders from other agencies.
Rising to the Challenge
Theodore Roosevelt as soon as stood top top the rim of the cool Canyon and also said, “Leave it as it is. The periods have gone to work ~ above it and also man have the right to only mar it.” The same have the right to be said around every remaining acre that American wilderness.
Wilderness provides clean water and air. Wilderness provides habitats for plants and also animals, including a refuge for threatened species; also often, wilderness is your last, best hope because that survival. Wilderness offers a referral for examining the effect of management tasks on soil, water, air, and also ecological processes. Wilderness provides solitude, a refuge indigenous our daily lives. Wilderness offers scenic beauty, a location for quiet reflection. And also let’s not forget—wilderness provides economic benefits to neighborhoods through tourism and also recreation.
The future the wilderness belongs come you. My career and also the careers the those in mine generation room slowly drawing to one end. I hope that countless of friend will take into consideration a job in windy service, maybe also in the forest Service. There are methods in the Forest business for every Americans, have to you select to take advantage of them.
However, no issue what you do in life, America’s wilderness tradition is yours since our public lands belong come you. Ultimately, they are your birthright and also your responsibility, the responsibility of every American to protect and also preserve for future generations. I have actually tried come lay out few of the challenges, however it will certainly be as much as you, the next generation of Americans, to climb to this challenges and also more.
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I to be confident that you will, in the best tradition that those who came before, those giants on whose shoulders us all stand—leaders and also visionaries choose Theodore Roosevelt … favor Aldo Leopold … prefer the framers the the Wilderness Act. Ns am confident the you will certainly preserve and even expand our country wilderness heritage, because that the advantage of generations come come.