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Untamed Wilderness – Possibility or Mere Pipedream?

By “untamed” I mean an expanse of land free of roads, livestock/civilization, hunting, and people who aren’t trained researchers or armed caretakers posted at the peripheries.

An opposing argument I recently encountered went something like:

-unfair to those who don’t have access to the publicly owned land
-too expensive to fund
-can’t keep poachers out
-hunters should be allowed if they obey DNR quotas (capping a few bears won’t hurt)
-we already have national parks anyway so this would be superfluous and restrictive
-it’s in our nature to dominate our surroundings, so such a park would be unnatural

From that arose a general sentiment of simply not caring about the health/existence of nature that exceeds the vibrancy of suburban forests (“tree areas”) and isn’t available for human exploitation.

I think most people here would rally behind the wholesale rejection of humans superseding the order to which we belong.  I’m also guessing most recognize the necessity to kill "x" number of deer is a consequence of having destroyed most of the tertiary consumers – clearly not an example of the DNR’s ability to micromanage its conception of a healthy ecosystem.

Along those same lines, the restoration of natural parks like Yellowstone has continually illustrated a) how little experts actually know about complex food chains and b) how ridiculous it is to pretend an ancient ecosystem will healthily adapt to minivans, beer cans and nearby cattle ranches.

That leaves the only legitimate claim made: outside of threatening trespassers with violence, is there anything that can be done to keep wilderness that large predators and their prey call home free of humans in a cost effective way? 

All I can think of is a combination of retribution through strict trespassing laws (which necessitates private land ownership), fees/donations collected from accredited researchers to cover some expenses, and volunteers who accept extremely basic accommodations in exchange for guarding the premises, which would require a lot of disciplined manpower.  Expansive fields to constitute the periphery along with nearby - but extremelely limited - vehicle access with checkpoints would also be necessary.

It’s pretty amazing that something as simple as leaving natural areas alone so they can continue to exist – as if that’s a huge sacrifice – is nearly impossible from a logistic and, for many, a conceptual standpoint.  Interestingly, the guys who rejected the idea of largely inaccessible wilderness were more than willing to admit that any region with an ecologically vibrant, pristine, and poacherless web of life almost entirely devoid of human involvement would instantaneously gain respect and envy throughout the world.  Can’t say I disagree there.

-unfair to those who don’t have access to the publicly owned land
-too expensive to fund
-can’t keep poachers out
-hunters should be allowed if they obey DNR quotas (capping a few bears won’t hurt)
-we already have national parks anyway so this would be superfluous and restrictive
-it’s in our nature to dominate our surroundings, so such a park would be unnatural

It's asstalk.

Unfair is secondary to what's necessary.
It requires no funding beyond initial purchase.
Death sentence for poachers, like they did in 13th century England.
Let it regulate itself. We don't need DNR quotas
National parks are parks for humans; this would be for wildlife
It's in our nature to dominate our surroundings, so we should protect some things from ourselves. Just like you don't invite your hot 14-year-old neighbor into your bed and hope you resist temptation, we shouldn't open nature up to ourselves and fondly wish we don't rape it.


I understand it is possible to get a piece of property and designate it a wildlife sanctuary, at least if a threatened species is located there. I'm guessing that would get the owner around having property taxes.

Viable wildlife populations and "de facto" wilderness (mainly public land which is far enough away from population centers and exceptional resource extraction hot spots) exist over the majority of northern North America (north of about 50 degrees latitude).  While I can't speak for Canada, in Alaska, even the majority of park lands and refuges are "managed" only in a very broad sense.  Hunting is restricted to subsistence users, and heavy visitor impact is restricted to relatively very small areas easily accessed by the few roads in the region. 

The concept of regions set aside for absolutely NO human activity, guarded by armed ELF members is about as natural as a row of cooling towers...  Having grown up in the suburbs, I can certainly understand the sentiment and romantic longing for such a place, but I feel strongly that this is an overreaction to the disease of modernity, with over-population at its root.

For anyone who feels the same way as the OP, please come on up and hang out for awhile - at least a year - NOT in Anchorage.  Living in an island of civilization in a sea of wilderness is a bigger paradigm shift than you realize, and it has been proven as a cure for pink frothy AIDS and various other maladies.




Wow. The post above me really demonstrates just how huge Alaska is. I need to go visit.

Viable wildlife populations and "de facto" wilderness (mainly public land which is far enough away from population centers and exceptional resource extraction hot spots) exist over the majority of northern North America (north of about 50 degrees latitude).  While I can't speak for Canada, in Alaska, even the majority of park lands and refuges are "managed" only in a very broad sense.  Hunting is restricted to subsistence users, and heavy visitor impact is restricted to relatively very small areas easily accessed by the few roads in the region. 

The concept of regions set aside for absolutely NO human activity, guarded by armed ELF members is about as natural as a row of cooling towers...  Having grown up in the suburbs, I can certainly understand the sentiment and romantic longing for such a place, but I feel strongly that this is an overreaction to the disease of modernity, with over-population at its root.

For anyone who feels the same way as the OP, please come on up and hang out for awhile - at least a year - NOT in Anchorage.  Living in an island of civilization in a sea of wilderness is a bigger paradigm shift than you realize, and it has been proven as a cure for pink frothy AIDS and various other maladies.

I'm glad you brought this up, and it’s nice to see Alaska is even more of an exception than I originally understood it to be.  That said, I think it’s a stretch to decide everything’s even close to a-ok in the lower 48 just because your off the beaten path state still has some natural reserves – there’s a reason it’s considered America’s last frontier.

Anyhow, it was the underlying mentality of the discussion that bothered me the most: we're gonna do what we wanna do because can, and in the meantime we'll celebrate the result of our actions as the new norm even though it pales in comparison to what it's supplanting. 

The necessity to hunt deer because their natural predators have been wiped out is not evidence of natural harmony.  Some acreage of trees here and there is not the same as virgin forest, and destroying wetlands before performing the gesture of ‘relocating’ them next to a highway or at the edge of industrial farmland is downright idiotic.  What baffles me is that people – very smart ones in the case of the OP – are willing and able to convince themselves these measures are acceptable as a norm so practical that the idea of the original topic becomes the stuff of taboo.

Interestingly enough, the validity of the much maligned idea of using overwhelming force to protect otherwise sought after land and resources for the purposes of preservation has been corroborated in Korea’s DMZ :)

Quote
the DMZ has essentially become a 2.5-mile-wide, 155-mile-long nature park that is home to more than 50 species of mammals, roughly 200 kinds of birds and in excess of 1,000 plant species. Some of the birds and animals that live or visit here are threatened or endangered.

Now a movement is under way to protect the natural wonders of the DMZ from perhaps their greatest threat — peace and the reunification of the peninsula.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2384287/posts