Wilderness

10/25/17 – Dirty Water: Thoughts on John Wesley Powell, the Paria River, and Surveying the American West

For millennia, southwest Utah’s Paria River has carved its way through the coarse, multi-layered sandstone formations that comprise the Paunsaugunt plateau from which it descends. After a 75-mile journey through the wilderness of what is now the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Paria, which means “dirty water,” descends through the Vermillion Cliffs for another twenty…Read the Rest »

9/13/17 – The “10 a.m. Policy”: The U.S. Forest Service and Wildfire Suppression

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the history of lookouts (LO) as the early indicators of the agency’s aggressive fire suppression policy. This week, I explain how the LOs comprised but one element in the U.S. Forest Service’s policy of total fire suppression that culminated in overgrown forests – tinderboxes – primed to burn…Read the Rest »

9/7/17 – The Lookouts: Sentinels of the Woodland Empire

The Lookout Way above the forests, that are in my care, Watching for the curling smoke – looking everywhere, Tied onto the world below by a telephone, High, and sometimes lonesome – living here alone, Snow peaks on the skyline, woods and rocky ground, The green of Alpine meadows circle me around, Waves of mountain…Read the Rest »

7/19/17 – Teddy Roosevelt in a Forrest Gump Land

It is, perhaps, old hat to remark on the loss of a broader human story when we choose to memorialize a landscape in a particular way, but I was recently reminded of how prevalent this occurrence is in a place I least expected: downtown Washington D.C. As someone who studied environmental history, and especially wilderness…Read the Rest »

2/22/17 – “Let’s Go for a Drive”

During recent public history project research, I stumbled across an article and photographs by Otto M. Jones published in the Idaho Daily Statesman in 1919. The article described the “arduous task” of travelling “steep winding grades that are not inducive [sic] of much speed or tempered with any degree of safety or security.”[1] The accompanying…Read the Rest »

2/8/17 – National Parks, History, and Amalia Baldwin

This past August 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday. The speeches, parties, news stories, and commemorations across the country were a way for Americans to reflect on one of the most incredible ideas this country has had. Despite the challenges the national parks face now and will continue to face in the…Read the Rest »

8/19/15 – The Boulder-White Clouds: the Long History of Wilderness in Central Idaho

  Idaho is renowned for its recreational opportunities and magnificent ruggedness. The solitude provided by its rivers and mountains are unmatched. Thus, President Obama’s August 7, 2015 signing of Idaho’s Sawtooth Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act is a significant event in environmental and Idaho history, particularly when viewed as the capstone of…Read the Rest »

2/9/15 – Wolf Reintroduction

While not a find in the archives, we’ve just reached the 20th anniversary of a landmark event in environmental history: the reintroduction of wolves to Idaho and Yellowstone. In what a recent Idaho Statesman article called “one of the most controversial wildlife projects of the century,” in 1995 and 1996, 66 wolves were live-trapped in…Read the Rest »

12/3/14 – Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Here in Idaho, the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in September 2014 has a special significance. Idaho is home to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the second largest wilderness area in the United States, containing 2.4 million acres of rugged mountains, forests, and rivers. It was named after Frank Church, who…Read the Rest »

10/8/14 – Gila Wilderness

On October 2, 1922, Aldo Leopold penned a plea for the preservation of a wilderness area in New Mexico. As a U.S. Forest Service employee stationed in the Land of Enchantment, Leopold lamented the loss of areas fit for wilderness designation that recently had been lost to the rise of automobiles. In his plea, he…Read the Rest »

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