Wild Wilderness Blog

If you found my recent post about the political influence of concessionaires interesting or maybe even a little thought provoking, there is another website I think you should know about. The site is for the federal wildland advocacy group called Wild Wilderness, and it is operated by Scott Silver the group's executive director. The website is not new, but it has just been through a massive redesign (a big improvement over the neon blue background of the old site). The new site looks good, and the information it contains is well organized. I frequently find that the articles written by Scott on the website challenge the ideas I hold about our federally managed wildlands. I think his ideas are important to the ongoing discussion about the best way to protect the places we love the most, the National Parks. Before I explain why, a little background on patterns:

(This may seem like a big diversion, but I will bring this back to parks) When it comes to any particular subject, our brains can only manage so much information at a time. And over time, our brains do their best to group similar pieces of smaller information together into larger groups called patterns. Take for instance the phrase "Mary had a little lamb". To a child learning to read, this phrase represents 18 letters, a big challenge to piece together all at once. But, to a kid that has learned to read, that phrase represents just 5 words, much easier for a young brain to process. And finally, as adults we all recognize that phrase as just a single thing, the 1st line to a familiar nursery rhyme. With time and experience in any subject we learn to see patterns in the complex; seeing the forest for the trees.

Patterns with Parks and Politics:
It can be difficult to see the patterns emerge with issues involving the parks. Some issues within the parks take years to develop, and never seem to surface into the media until they are a problem. When a problem is identified, it can be difficult and time consuming to undo the damage. As an example, consider the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. As I understand the history of the issue, snowmobiles were introduced as a simple novelty many years ago. But as more and more people used snowmobiles in the park, a pattern of excessive noise emerged. By the time park scientists evaluated the noise as a problem, the issue of snowmobile use had become so politicized that you've got what we have today, a continuing political debate with no end in sight, and continued noise in the winter. If someone had recognized the emerging pattern of noise and been there 25 years ago to say "ya' know, if we don't keep these machines out of the park now, it'll be a big problem in the future", that person probably would have been viewed with some skepticism, but as we know today, they would have been right.

I believe Scott Silver to be this person today. This is the big reason that I read with interest the emerging patterns that he surfaces on a near daily basis with his website. While most of us are simply trying to figure out which players are in the game, Scott not only knows them all by name, he knows the teams they play for, and has an understanding of the complex interrelationships that exist between each of them. More than anyone else out there, Scott must have the largest archive of emails and websites concerning our National Parks and Forests on his computer. He has been an active advocate for wildlands for more than 10 years, and when an issue develops, he can dig into his collection to find a paragraph of information posted on a website that has long since disappeared from the web. This wealth of information at his fingertips reinforces the arguments he makes in his posts. Give his blog a try, it may challenge some of your ideas about the parks, but in time, you'll recognize the work he is doing as part of the complex pattern of advocacy needed for the long term protection of our National Parks.