Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 66

G Why We Need Wilderness
by Stephanie Jeffries
Guest
Column
STEPH JEFFRIES IS A NATURALIST AT HEART AND A FOREST ECOLOGIST
BY TRAINING. SHE AND CO-AUTHOR TOM WENTWORTH (BOTH AT N.C.
STATE) RECENTLY PUBLISHED "EXPLORING SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN
FORESTS: AN ECOLOGICAL GUIDE TO 30 GREAT HIKES IN THE
CAROLINAS, GEORGIA, TENNESSEE, AND VIRGINIA," FROM UNC PRESS.
"HOW DO WE KNOW this is the right
trail? Why aren't there blazes?" my
10-year-old son Simon asked last
August. We were grazing on plump
blueberries on Grassy Cove Top in
Shining Rock Wilderness.
"We have to use our map and
compass to be sure. We're in a wilderness,
so there are no trail markers."
"Why not? Won't people get
lost?"
"Maybe. People do get lost, if they
aren't careful. But human visitors
don't get special treatment in a wilderness.
That's what makes it
special."
Last September marked the 50th
anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
Hiking in Shining Rock, I asked myself
whether wilderness today is what we
protected in 1964. Was Shining Rock
"an area where the earth and its
community of life are untrammeled
by man, where man himself is a visitor
who does not remain"?
Wilderness has not escaped the
long reach of human influence.
Despite that, we need wilderness
today more than ever.
To be clear, we didn't always set
aside pristine landscapes, as the language
of the act suggests. In the East,
in particular, wilderness was more of
a "come as you are" party. By the
1960s, most eastern forests had been
logged once, if not twice. Wilderness
was carved from undeveloped public
land - found wilderness, but hardly
pristine.
However, nature's resilience is
amazing, and thriving forests have
returned to many eastern wilderness
areas that had been logged. The act
also provides important physical pro66
| BlueRidgeCountry.com
Simon, Andrew, Steph and Stephen Jeffries hike the Art Loeb Trail into the Shining
Rock Wilderness in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, searching for wild
blueberries and other connections with nature.
tection from roads and other development.
In reality, though, our
wilderness areas are under siege -
threats include air pollution, invasive
species, and changing climate. We
struggle with complex management
issues like fire in Linville Gorge: Fires
are a natural part of the montane pine
ecosystem there, yet we must control
wildfires to protect neighboring communities.
Using prescribed fire to
reduce fuel loads is not allowed under
the act. The modern world presses
against our wilderness areas in ways
that are beyond our control, despite
our best intentions.
Failing to maintain wilderness in its
most pristine condition, should we
abandon the idea? I believe that our
need for wilderness remains real and
urgent, perhaps even greater than
when the Wilderness Act became law.
In his 1960 letter arguing for wilderness
protection, Pulitzer Prize-winning
novelist William Stegner wrote, "We
simply need that wild country available
to us, even if we never do more
than drive to its edge and look in. For
it can be a means of reassuring ourselves
of our sanity as creatures, a
part of the geography of hope."
Wilderness puts us on equal footing
with the rest of the natural world.
Despite the built environments that
surround us, we are all still nature's
citizens, and wilderness renews that
connection.
As my husband and two sons and I
feasted on blueberries, we wondered
whether we might see a black bear
family doing the same. Our human
need for these connections makes
today's imperfect wilderness not just
relevant, but essential. 
http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015

Letters
From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Mill Creek Stories
Creature Feature
The Hike
Great Buys
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Creature Feature
Festivals & Events
The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Why We Travel: The Photoessay
The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
The Old Stone Chimney
Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Mountain Garden
Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 2
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Letters
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - From the Editor & Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Great Buys
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Curios: Our Annual Compendium of the Strange
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - North Georgia: A Foodie Haven
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Why We Travel: The Photoessay
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The 2015 Blue Ridge Country Travel Guide: A Year of Experiences
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Weekend: Harpers Ferry and Western Maryland
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - The Old Stone Chimney
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cabin in the Woods: Fiddler’s Roost
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Guest Column: Author Stephanie Jeffries
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - January/February 2015 - Cover4
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