From Denali's majestic slopes to the Great Swamp of central New Jersey, protected wilderness areas make up nearly twenty percent of the parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands that cover a full fourth of the nation's territory. But wilderness is not only a place. It is also one of the most powerful and troublesome ideas in American environmental thought, representing everything from sublime beauty and patriotic inspiration to a countercultural ideal and an overextension of government authority.
The Promise of Wilderness examines how the idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Wilderness preservation has engaged diverse groups of citizens, from hunters and ranchers to wildlife enthusiasts and hikers, as political advocates who have leveraged the resources of local and national groups toward a common goal. Turner demonstrates how these efforts have contributed to major shifts in modern American environmental politics, which have emerged not just in reaction to a new generation of environmental concerns, such as environmental justice and climate change, but also in response to changed debates over old conservation issues, such as public lands management. He also shows how battles over wilderness protection have influenced American politics more broadly, fueling disputes over the proper role of government, individual rights, and the interests of rural communities; giving rise to radical environmentalism; and playing an important role in the resurgence of the conservative movement, especially in the American West.
Watch the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jsq-6LAeYKk
James Morton Turner is assistant professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College.
Foreword Abbreviations Acknowledgments Introduction Part One Wilderness and the Origins ofModern Environmentalism, 1964-1976 1 Why a Wilderness Act? 2 Speaking for Wilderness 3 The Popular Politics of Wilderness 4 New Environmental Tools for an Old Conservation Issue 101 Part TwoThe Polarization of American Environmental Politics, 1977-1994 5 Alaska: "The Last Chance to Do It Right the First Time" 6 National Forests: The Polarization of Environmental Politics7 The Public Domain: Environmental Politics and the Rise of the New Right Part Threewilderness and a New Agenda for the Public Lands, 1987-2009 8 From Wilderness to Public Lands Reform 9 The New Prophets of Wilderness 10 The Paths to Public Lands Reform Epilogue: Rebuilding the WildernessMovement Notes Bibliography Index