In Cities in the Wilderness, former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt asks: "Is it realistic to suggest expanding land protection programs in a season when the Bush administration and Congress are intent not upon expanding, but upon shrinking the reach of our environmental laws?"
Babbitt’s answer is a resounding "Yes." He
continues, "History instructs us that the trajectory of
environmental protection is moving ever upward over time, even as
the trend line occasionally breaks downward. And that suggests to
me that the seeds of change must be planted now, even if they do
not germinate immediately."
And plant seeds Babbitt does,
in a book that is part call-to-arms, part memoir, and part land-use
policy analysis. Cities in the Wilderness examines Babbitt’s
accomplishments as President Clinton’s Interior Secretary
from 1992 to 2000, and offers advice on laying the groundwork for
the next phase.
People who love Babbitt and his legacy of
environmental preservation and restoration will love Cities in the
Wilderness; people who hated him will likewise hate this book. He
pulls no punches when he writes that the "grazing of livestock is
the most damaging use of public land," or calls public-lands
predator control a "rangeland massacre."
provides plenty of juicy insider’s tidbits: He discusses how
he "helped" Clinton secure a conservation legacy by gently
comparing the number of acres Clinton had preserved with the number
preserved by Teddy Roosevelt. A few months later, Clinton
designated several more monuments, pushing his acreage tally above
Roosevelt’s. Babbitt makes an eloquent argument for more
enlightened federal land-use planning. This is a bold and visionary
book by one of America’s most bold and visionary conservation