Wilderness, big and small

San Raf reef

I grew up not far from a large parcel of undeveloped land, a private estate of 150 acres that had been neglected for years. It was called "The Wilderness."  It provided a haven for wildlife, a natural recreation area, and a corner of solitude.  At the time, I was unaware of a different kind of wilderness - federal land set aside by Congress to preserve its wild state and all of the values associated with it.  The Wilderness Act of 1964 proclaims that "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

I recently visited southern Utah - a stunning landscape of unique and mind-blowing natural beauty. I've added one photo below.  Some of the most famous places in the region are well known national parks - Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef. Images of these special places illustrate the magnificent vistas of the region.  But some of the most beautiful, and most wild, locations are not famous.  One of those places is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument -- 1.9 million acres of Utah's wildest lands and home to wildlife, archeological sites, amazing rivers and canyons, and endless geological wonders.

It's just one of the areas that would receive protection under America's Red Rock Wilderness Act - a bill recently re-introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.  America's Red Rock Wilderness Act would permanently protect more than 9 million acres of wilderness-quality land in Utah. These lands are now threatened by a range of harmful activities, including oil and gas production. NRDC, along with our local partners in Utah, worked hard during the Bush administration to stave off the constant threats to destroy these beautiful landscapes, and now we'll be helping to advance this important legislation.  We'll be writing soon to let you know how you, too, can help protect these lands.

ps: that Wilderness near my childhood home?  It was subdivided into housing, but the community preserved a large portion of  it as undeveloped land for recreation.