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 Is the wilderness concept still relevant to modern demographics or is wilderness an outdated "white male ethic'?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
  • ELLIE SAYS IT'S SAFE! A GUIDE DOG'S JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE
    by Don Hagedorn. A story of how lives of the visually impaired are improved through the love and courage of guide dogs. Available on Amazon.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
    All positions available: Sales Representative, Accountant and Administrative Assistant. As part of our expansion program, our University is looking for part time work from home...
  • COMMUNICATIONS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Communications Associate Director Location: Flexible within the Western U.S., Durango, CO preferred Position reports to: Senior Communications Director The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF)...
  • HISTORIC HOTEL & CAFE
    For Sale, 600k, Centennial Wyoming, 6 suites plus 2 bed, 2 bath apartment. www.themountainviewhotel.com Make this your home or buy a turn key hotel [email protected]
  • MAJOR GIFTS OFFICER
    High Country News, an award-winning news organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a Major Gifts Officer to join our...
  • RUBY, ARIZONA CARETAKER
    S. Az ghost town seeking full-time caretaker. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    Basic Summary: The Vice President for Landscape Conservation is based in the Washington, D.C., headquarters and oversees Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing...
  • BRISTOL BAY PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Seeking a program director responsible for developing and implementing all aspects of the Alaska Chapter's priority strategy for conservation in the Bristol Bay region of...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The National Bighorn Sheep Center is looking for an Executive Director to take us forward into the new decade with continued strong leadership and vision:...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Powder Basin Watershed Council, based in Baker City, Oregon, seeks a new Executive Director with a passion for rural communities, water, and working lands....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Powder River Basin Resource Council, a progressive non-profit conservation organization based in Sheridan, Wyoming, seeks an Executive Director, preferably with grassroots organizing experience, excellent communication...
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.