We're making a new claim on nature

  Dear HCN,


Many thanks for Allen Best's excellent feature story on the White River National Forest Plan (HCN, 1/17/00: STOP - A national forest tries to rein in recreation).


On a related topic, a conference held in December in Snowmass, Colo., provided in-depth dialogue on many of the issues at play in the White River plan. At this Recreation Capacity Congress, sponsored by Colorado State University, 550 land managers, outfitters, outdoor educators, mountain bikers, motorized trail users and environmentalists debated topics such as outdoor recreationists' entitlement to the land vs. the rights of nature. How do the recreation needs of inner-city youth stack up against the time-honored value of solitude, and, who "owns' public lands? Is the wilderness concept still relevant to modern demographics or is wilderness an outdated "white male ethic'?


The conference seemed to demonstrate three emerging trends: First, nature was defined as a social rather than as a biological or utilitarian construct. For example, terms such as biodiversity, grazing and logging were giving way to terms such as "input-output models," "supply-demand," "benefits-based management" and "recreation market segmentation." Second, agencies such as the Forest Service, National Park Service and BLM were being recast as recreation "providers' rather than as land stewards. And finally, the conference was dominated by a new class of recreationists, outdoor educators, tour guides and trail advocacy groups, characterized by a quest for access and a need for nature to serve, no longer as a source of products, but as a source of human experience.


Concepts voiced at the conference were a far cry from the conservation ethic of the 20th century. Aldo Leopold envisioned a man as a "plain member" of the "land-community," while here public-lands users were termed "customers," "clients' and "consumers." Instead of the wilderness ethic espoused by John Muir, David Brower and Dave Foreman, public lands were seen as "providing customer services' and "filling market niches." And the Deep Ecology notion of nature as having an intrinsic right to exist for its own sake was replaced by the notion of nature as a "recreational setting" for human experience.


To someone steeped in the 20th-century ethic, the whole conference seemed slightly unreal. And, in light of these shifting definitions of conservation, it is all the more heartening to see the White River National Forest maintaining the values of land stewardship and ecosystem health.


Roz McClellan
Nederland, Colorado


High Country News Classifieds
  • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement: Membership Director Job Title: Membership Director Supervisor: Executive Director Classification: Full-time exempt Location: Boise, ID Job Overview Winter Wildlands Alliance is seeking a...
  • IMPROVED LOT
    Private road, hillside, views. Well, pad, septic, 99 sq.ft. hut. Dryland permaculture orchard. Wildlife. San Diego--long growing season
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors LOCATION: Ashland, OR POSTING CLOSES: March...
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • UNIQUE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
    Profitable off-the-grid business located 2 miles from Glacier National Park. Owner has 6 years operating experience. Seeking investor or partner for business expansion and enhancement....
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    ABOUT US: "This thriving citizens organization exemplifies the ideal of public involvement in public processes." - Billings Gazette At Northern Plains, we believe that true...
  • ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN THE OUTDOOR PROGRAM
    To view the complete position description please visit: http://employment.stlawu.edu. St. Lawrence University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • TRAIL CREW & ASSISTANT TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    SEEKING TALENTED TRAIL WORK LEADERS The Pacific Crest Trail Association, headquartered in Sacramento, California is dedicated to protecting, preserving and promoting the Pacific Crest National...
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • DEVELOPMENT AND ADVOCACY DIRECTOR
    Provide stewardship and protection for the Great Burn wildlands along the Montana-Idaho stateline. This position is based in Missoula, MT, where a river runs through...
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • WILDERNESS CONSERVATION CORPS - OREGON
    The Siskiyou Mountain Club is hiring interns for the 2020 Field Season. Interns utilize non-mechanized tools to complete trail restoration and maintenance while gaining job...
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.