Wyoming’s wilderness culture has its heroes, but unlike the cowboys who get so much play in the state, they are largely unknown. In Ahead of Their Time, a new book covering four decades of the Wyoming wilderness movement, editors Broughton Coburn and Leila Bruno try to remedy that by asking writers to choose a wilderness warrior, collect oral interviews, old photos, testimonies, diaries and more, and then write about him or her. The resulting essays make an unusual book, not only because they are about so many different people, but because they are penned by so many different writers.
variety of writing styles and visions will please some readers and
bother others, but if nothing else, it serves as a reminder that
the battle to save wilderness is fought on many fronts, that anyone
can fight for wilderness, and that ultimately, wilderness belongs
to everyone. As Chris Madsen of the state’s Game and Fish
Department rightly points out in the preface, preserving wilderness
"is no more ‘elitist’ than preserving the Declaration
of Independence or the battlefield at Gettysburg."
of the book’s subjects seem almost glamorous; their photos
and stories suggest an endless parade of good friends and good
times. But other accounts reveal that fighting the good fight can
take a heavy toll. Todd Wilkinson writes about High
Country News founder Tom Bell, who at one point
sacrificed everything for the West and for wilderness: longtime
friends, his beloved family ranch, good standing in his hometown.
Met with indifference and outgunned by lobbyists, Bell despaired.
He nearly surrendered. The fact that he didn’t is an
inspiration to Wilkinson — and inspiring the next generation
of wilderness heroes is really the point of the book.
Ahead of Their Time: Wyoming Voices for
Edited by Broughton Coburn and Leila
Bruno, 220 pages, softcover, $14.95: Wyoming Wilderness
Wyoming's unsung wilderness heroes
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