Wilderness: History and Value Essay

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Wilderness: History and Value


From the very beginning of this nation's history, wilderness has been a fundamental ingredient. The first European settlers found and battled against it upon their arrival. The western explorers and wagon trains sought to wrestle farmland from the wilderness's grip to build cities, farms and homes. It was not until the reality of its finite availability, that it was viewed as anything other than an opponent and menace. These changing attitudes began a new battle for preservation and protection of the wilderness that remained. The nation's attitude transformation was testimony to a new focus and value for wilderness. This new disposition declared that the preservation and maintenance of
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They viewed the situation as a threat to development, further verifying their beliefs.

As the country aged, the lands west of the original colonies drew more curiosity and became the new focus of national development. With initiative similar to that which condemned the undeveloped land and the Indians, explorers set forth, fueled by a perceived blessing from God and a notion called Manifest Destiny (Kropf,1997). This ideal claimed that the Christian dominance of the nation was God ordained, therefore giving them license to do as they saw fit. Their mission was to settle and subdue the wilderness in the West. During the western settlement, incidents like the discovery of gold in California and small pox plagues which killed thousands of Indians propagated the ideals of Manifest Destiny. Throughout the nineteenth century, Manifest Destiny was the driving force of westward expansion and the war on wilderness.

Wilderness Act of 1964

While all of the exploration and expansion continued, different areas gained recognition for their remarkable wild and scenic beauty. In the 1850's Yosemite state reserve was recognized, and in 1872, Yellowstone was declared the first national park (Nash,1984). This area was preserved as a "public park or pleasuring ground," to be kept "in the natural condition." Another significant step in national history and land preservation was the