With everything from invasive insects to energy developers threatening national forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands, it’s not hard to understand why conservationists are scowling a lot these days.
From Conquest to Conservation, Michael Dombeck,
Christopher Wood and Jack Williams argue that Americans, now more
than ever, realize public lands are more than treasure chests of
Dombeck, Wood and Williams — all
veterans of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management
— trace the evolution of the public’s attitude toward
public lands from one of dominion to one of stewardship. They
write: “Those who make a living working on public lands
— civil servants, recreationists, industry users,
environmentalists — can either wring their hands in dismay or
find a common cause in developing a new consensus for public-land
Although the authors conclude that
ecological sustainability is slowly gaining ground, they are no
pollyannas. As the architects of the highly controversial Roadless
Rule, which protects almost 60 million acres of national forest
land in the West, Dombeck and Wood, in particular, know how rocky
the terrain of conservation can be.
Touching on challenges
ranging from invasive cheatgrass to endangered salmon to
catastrophic wildfire, the authors also consider how public-land
management measures up against Aldo Leopold’s litmus test:
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity,
stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it
From Conquest to Conservation: Our
Public Lands Legacy
by Michael P. Dombeck, Christopher A.
Wood and Jack E. Williams; foreword by Charles Wilkinson.
210 pages, softcover: $22.50.
Right and wrong on public lands
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