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What is wilderness?

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Postby chicagotransplant » Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:40 pm

Its a good question, I like the definitions in the Wilderness Act myself (some quoted below), but in a sense the Wilderness Act has created a sort of arbitrary definition as well. Lands that have the same characteristics, sometimes along the same ridge or on opposite sides of the same road, where one side is "Wilderness" and the other side is not. For example, by legal definition, the left side of this ridge is Wilderness, and the right side of this ridge is not:

Image

Can you tell the difference? By characteristics, the two seem exactly alike, by definition in the Wilderness Act, they both seem to qualify:

"...generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable..."

"...has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation..."

"...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 guess the true difference between the two is one of legal protection, "Wilderness" is that land that not only meets the characteristics described by the Act and by many in this thread, but is that land which is also afforded the special protection to make sure it stays that way.
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Postby Arthur Digbee » Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:51 pm

Well, chicagotransplant, probably all the cairns are on the right-hand side of the ridge. 8)

But in all seriousness, I really love that picture of a designated wilderness boundary.
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Postby chicagotransplant » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:32 pm

Arthur Digbee wrote:Well, chicagotransplant, probably all the cairns are on the right-hand side of the ridge. 8)

But in all seriousness, I really love that picture of a designated wilderness boundary.


Thanks, I work as a volunteer ranger in our local wilderness areas, those invisible lines that mark the difference between "wilderness" and "feels like wilderness" can be hard to explain sometimes! Many people aren't even aware there is such a thing as a "legal" definition of wilderness.

By the way, to try and answer your earlier question about "Untrammeled". The word basically means "unrestrained", so Wilderness is "unrestrained by man", so I guess trails are okay because they are a restraint to nature, animals can use them, or cross them, and plants could always grow back and fill them in over time.
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Postby chicagotransplant » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:50 am

And lucky for us those animals know these trails very well, comes in handy in winter! They help break trail and their tracks are easier to follow than tree blazes :D
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Postby ksolem » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:11 am

jhodlof wrote: ...One thing is for sure. It's a place that chainsaws and fire fighting is legally allowed, but mountain bikes and bolts are forbidden.


Actually, bolts placed with power tools are forbidden. There is a long tradition of placing bolts with hand tools, a painstaking process as you may know, on back country and wilderness climbs.

Your point is a good one though, as to wilderness designation being primarily an administrative one. Yesterday I was in "wilderness" within sight of a road. Recently I have been really out there away from everything on BLM land with no such designation...
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Postby lcarreau » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:39 am

Arthur Digbee wrote:And in New York you might be more than a day away from medical care if you get hurt.



"Laughter is the only medicine I can afford."

New York City? Did somebody say dat salsa was made in New York City ???


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"Git-a rope !!!"
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Postby Guyzo » Tue Apr 20, 2010 4:05 pm

Wilderness = Land of little use

I read this someplace, maybe on the backside of a toy hauler.

I know it when I see it. 8)

Just cause some bureaucrat/politician draws a new line on a map, doesn't make it so. :cry:

unless you buy into the fraud.

gk :wink:
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Postby Guyzo » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:08 pm

Dingus Milktoast wrote:I don't think 'fraud' when I see a designated wilderness area, Guy.

I think... "DAMN I AM A LUCKY BASTARD TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY THAT IS SO SMART AS TO TRY TO PRESERVE THESE LANDS. AND I GET TO WALK AND CLIMB THERE TOO!!!111111"

What an incredible legacy!

Its great! No, probably not 'true' wilderness but as close as I am likely to get any time soon.

Cheers buddy

DMT


Dingus..... I feel like the original concept was a great thing. Saving the Valley, Kings Canyon, Mineral King have proven to be of huge value.

I have a problem with some "land manager" telling me "this is now wilderness, I don't care if you have been driving to these rocks for 30 years..... it's now pristine wilderness, ONLY I AND MY RANGER FRIENDS ARE THE ONLY ONES ALLOWED TO DRIVE ON THIS ROAD.

This smacks of pure fraud, IMHO and devalues the "real wilderness" that we all must work hard to protect.

Now I know you live in NO-CAL, a place with lots of "No Trespassing" signs posted. If I lived under those circumstances I might have a different opinion.

I know of a place, in California, where it's wilderness. No trails, no litter, tons of wild animals, no rangers - remember no trails - and no lights at night. It's quite a hump to get there.
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Postby chicagotransplant » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:58 pm

MikeTX wrote:I'd rather places be restricted to a few roads only accessible by FS employees than left open for developers to litter the area with shopping malls and condos.


...Or sold to mining and gas companies. Let see the general public get to use the land when its got a shopping mall or an oil derrick on it.
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