Fighting for forests

 

Arthur Carhart: Wilderness Prophet
Tom Wolf
294 pages, hardcover: $34.95.
University Press of Colorado, 2008.

A fiery conservationist who came of age in the late 1910s, Arthur Carhart had a penchant for highlighting the contradictions in the environmental movement, not to mention the conflicts of interest at the U.S. Forest Service, which employed him at a young age. The disheartening part of reading Wilderness Prophet, Tom Wolf's new biography, is realizing that the problems Carhart shed light on nine decades ago are still damaging our nation's public lands.

Carhart is credited with proposing one of the nation's first wilderness areas, at Trappers Lake in northwest Colorado in 1919. The original idea didn't come to fruition, but the lake received increased protection and spurred Carhart to promote watershed-wide wilderness management to the Forest Service. He battled for sound planning throughout his Forest Service career and against the frantic road-building, timber-harvesting mindset of the agency. "The very future of the nation could fall into decadence, fail, even die, if we do not give the consideration we must to the water wealth and the soil wealth so closely linked to it," Carhart wrote in 1951.

A prolific writer and landscape architect as well, Carhart fought against pandering to special interests, whether ranchers or recreational opportunists. He also decried the failure to include "buffer zones" in wilderness designations, a problem that manifests itself today throughout the West, when wilderness abuts gated trophy homes and paved roads.

Author Tom Wolf invokes the spirit of a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, firm in his beliefs but never afraid to change them. Carhart, for example, was willing to acknowledge that he erred in supporting the eradication of wolves from Colorado in the 1920s. To the end of his life he criticized the diluted 1964 Wilderness Act, which he believed had been compromised by special interests.

Today, in 2008, more new dams are planned to capture more Western water, and the recent drilling boom is surely not what Carhart envisioned as sound land management. But Carhart, who was never an alarmist, would be at the bargaining table anyway, fighting to save our public lands from becoming logged-out forests, drill-ravaged meadows, and dried-up river beds.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Trout Unlimited seeks an individual with successful development experience, strong interpersonal skills, and a deep commitment to coldwater conservation to serve as the organization's...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Now hiring a full-time, remote Program Director for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship! Come help us promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship,...
  • WYOMING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS COORDINATOR
    The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is seeking Coordinator to implement public education and advocacy campaigns in the Cowboy State to unite and amplify hunter, angler,...
  • ASSISTANT TOWN ATTORNEY
    Town of Jackson, Wyoming, $66,700 - $88,000 DOQ, full benefits. Law Degree Required. Rental housing options available. For a complete job description and to apply,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...