National Wilderness Month

Bob Marshall Wilderness

For centuries, the American spirit of exploration and discovery has led us to experience the majesty of our Nation’s wilderness.  From raging rivers to serene prairies, from mountain peaks slicing the skyline to forests teeming with life, our Nation’s landscapes have provided wonder, inspiration, and strength to all Americans.  Many sites continue to hold historical, cultural, and religious significance for Indian tribes, the original stewards of this continent.  We must continue to preserve and protect these scenic places and the life that inhabits them so they may be rediscovered and appreciated by generations to come.
 As we celebrate America’s abundance of diverse lands, remarkable wildlife, and untamed beauty during National Wilderness Month, we also look back on our rich history of conservation.  It was over 100 years ago that President Theodore Roosevelt marveled at the stark grandeur of the Grand Canyon and declared, “the ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”  Since that time, administrations have worked across party lines to defend America’s breathtaking natural sites.  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act in 1964, and many Presidents have since added new places to this great network of protected lands so that millions of acres of forests, monuments, and parks will be preserved for our children and grandchildren.
 Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act last year to restore and protect more of our cherished wild spaces.  In April of this year, I established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a community-based 21st century conservation agenda that can also spur job creation in the tourism and recreation industries.  My Administration will continue to work closely with our State, local, and tribal partners to connect Americans with the great outdoors.
 This month, we renew our pledge to build upon the legacy of our forebears.  Together, we must ensure that future generations can experience the tranquility and grandeur of America’s natural places.  As we resolve to meet this responsibility, let us also reflect on the ways in which our lives have been enriched by the gift of the American wilderness.

-President Barack Obama, 8/31/10

This is the second year in a row that September has been declared National Wilderness Month (NWM).  Last year my head was too far up grad school’s ass to do or say much about it, but now that I’m unemployeed, things will be different!  I’ve already had a pretty good run this summer of visiting wilderness areas around the northern Rockies, but I have a few more plans to put into action.

I encourage everyone to do the same.  Find wilderness near(ish) you.

Isle Royale NP and Wilderness

There are of course many things that are wilderness or wilderness-y, if not (juridically, capital W) Wilderness.  All count for the purposes of reader participation.  There’s even a Wilderness near Bloomington, Indiana!  So go get your feet wet!

Yellowstone NP, de facto but not de jure Wilderness

I’ve revamped the sidebars a bit, seperating personal pages from commerical enterprises and resources.  Though the line between the two is quite fluid, I want to put out some of the things I find useful for planning adventures.  The interactive snotel map will shortly come in handy!

I’ve found myself taking this blog more seriously in the last two months than ever before.  The job search process has been a pain in the ass, but also a great catalyst for introspection.  I like doing social work, and would continue doing it even if I won the lottery tomorrow.  I wouldn’t do it full time, and in the future I’d like to be able to cobble together an income sufficient enough to fund abundant adventure and travel doing the things I like to do anyway.  A big part of that is communicating about the outdoors, and a big part of that is the content that gets put up here.  I owe it to myself and all of you to take that seriously.

Another way of saying that is that I’d like to leverage the writing, photography, and home movies that go on here to make money.  I’m not going to use Google ads, they’re ugly and my impression is the income they’d provide would be very limited.  I’m also not going to compromise the content and why I do what I do here.  Using the blog tracker the last 7 weeks has revealed that many of the most read posts are tech posts that are several years old: about how to make a pack, how to set up drop bars for mountain biking, and so forth.  That is all well and good, but it points to a trend in outdoor adventuring that I feel obligated to fight against, that we tend to study and celebrate the tools of the trade far more than the doing of the thing.  Gear is cool, communicating your passion a vital part of being human, and online resources fantastic, but participating in something on only a theoretical or intellectual level is a sickness to be condemed.  If I started doing more gear-centric content I’d almost certainly raise my profile, but that would take me in a direction I don’t want to go.  There are plenty of sites run by private individuals  (to saying nothing of the contempt-worthy Gear Junkie) whose gear focus has netted an impressive following.  I’m not going to do that.  I’m not going to stop using big words (as Kelly suggested yesterday), and I’m not going to write about less esoteric subjects (the “California Gurls” post has gotten an encouraging amount of traffic).

I will (have already) put more time into producing content with broad(er) appeal, things like DIY gear and trip guides that I haven’t addressed as well as they could be.  I’m also thinking about soliciting more participation.  Blogger 101 suggests the type of exit questions that Adam has been using for ages.  We’ll see about that.  There are certainly a lot more of you reading this regularly than I had thought, and more comments would only be a good thing.

To that end, I’d like to announce the first Bedrock & Paradox reader contest.  I’ve changed what comments are called to reflect one of my favorite barbs from all of American political history.  The two word insult was used by a public figure against a former US president who was supposedly showing his age.  First person to name the president and the public office he held after being president (he is thus far the only ex-president to hold this office) gets a custom something sewn for them by me.  It will not look professional but it will be very burly and functional.  A small frame bag, shoulder pouch for fishing tackle, etc.  Leave you answer as a comment, and when/if anyone is correct we’ll negotiate on the prize.

Now go out and enjoy the wild!

P.S.  Bill got some great shots of an epicly weather enhanced outdoor performance of Julius Ceaser last night.   Montana Shakespeare in the Parks had a great production, with only one break to squeegie off the stage.

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10 thoughts on “National Wilderness Month

  1. I agree with your focus toward trip-oriented vs. gear oriented blogging. I am torn by the same choice with my blog. My line of work is backpacking gear so I don't find writing about it in my free time to be a particularly fun thing to do but I do find writing about the trips I take to be an invigorating way to reflect upon what I've done. And although I'm too late I believe aztoma was correct with the Andrew Johnson/Senate response.

  2. I've hunted high and low for use of the term "Loose Expectorations" and it's most commonly appearing as being used against Charles Sumner. James Buchanan was the President at the time the phrase was stated (1856) but he held no public office after being President. Perhaps he was the only Pres. to not hold office?Otherwise, Grover Cleveland seems to have been president while this phrase was used and he was the only President to hold non-consecutive presidencies. This is a tricky question, good choice, Dave.

  3. Sam you are right, there appears to be some confusion about it.Sumner used it famously, and got caned for it (one city in South Carolina gave Pickney a cane engraved with "hit him again"). I'm thinking of someone who was president before Sumner was caned, and held a national office after his presidency that no other president has held post-oval office.

  4. Now you have me curious, is it John Tyler? the only president to have held the office of President pro tempore of the Senate, and the only former president elected to office in the government of the Confederacy during the Civil War (though he died before he assumed said office).

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