"Pristine" is in the eye of the beholder
Nice essay (HCN, 9/19/11, "The mirage of the pristine"). I guess my only gripe with it is how "pristine wilderness" is defined. If pristine means that there has been no human influence, then there is no such thing, and hasn't been for hundreds or thousands of years. But personally, I've always thought that pristine wilderness was a place where human influence isn't the dominant influence -- where flowing water, growing trees, foraging animals and weather of all types had a greater impact on the land than the human species. To me that's wilderness -- and pretty pristine wilderness at that.