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Know the West

The problem and the solution

  Dear HCN,

Yellowstone National Park faces a terrific dilemma. Enhancement for recreational visitors or management as a diverse ecosystem? What ecosystem? The pre-Columbian system or the modern system which is a result of endless human tinkering? Of course, this kind of dilemma faces not only Yellowstone, but every place.

The overriding goal, which researcher Fred Wagner did not discuss in his essay (HCN, 5/30/94), is that Yellowstone harbors the last of the wild - the essence of wildness as we know it today - and that is all we have to measure. If a scientific consensus emerges as a result of the work Wagner and others have done, it would behoove them to recognize that additional tinkering, i.e., more intensive management of the wildlife such as hunting in the park, deepens and broadens our sphere of influence which can only further tame Yellowstone's wildness.

If there is one thing we have learned, further tinkering with wildness doesn't allow us to extract ourselves from that system; it assures continued tinkering to solve the next set of problems that we create.

Dick Carter

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dick Carter is coordinator of the Utah Wilderness Association.