As the nation prepares to observe the 38th annual Earth Day, a new national report calls attention to ten wild places that are in trouble-places of our original Earth increasingly at risk of losing their wilderness qualities. Wild...for How Long? Ten Treasures in Trouble looks at some of the country's yet unprotected wild land and finds that from coast to coast, many of America's special wild places remain vulnerable to mining, drilling, road-building, logging, development and off-road vehicle abuse.
From one of the nation's most biologically diverse treasures, the sky islands of Arizona, to one of the remaining roadless areas left in the lush Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, the country's wild places are being torn up, plowed over and turned into ever more shopping malls and highways.
Outside of Alaska, just 2.5 percent of the nation's wild land enjoys permanent protection as wilderness today. Ten Treasures in Trouble spotlights wild land at risk, but also those that are poised for wilderness designation, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The report also features some of the local heroes who are working to protect these places they love-everyday Americans making a difference in the effort to pass down some of this original Earth to those who will come after us.
In Montana, local conservationists and timber industry leaders are working through decades-old issues and getting behind protection of some of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest as wilderness. In Idaho, people are working to protect the spectacular Boulder-White Clouds from the explosion in off-road vehicles climbing ever higher and deeper into the mountains. In California, a campaign is underway to ensure protection of Beauty Mountain from possible mining.
"It sounds unbelievable, but experts tell us we lose a 6,000 acres of open space every single day in this country," says Mike Matz, executive director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, which released the report. "We should have the good sense to protect some of these special places to give as a natural legacy to our children and grandchildren."
"The places included in this report sound a compelling story about what's at stake when it comes to ensuring that there will always be wild places to experience and enjoy, for wildlife habitat, and as sources of clean water and clear air As we celebrate Earth Day 2008, let us acknowledge the value of these wild places to our lives. Let's also honor the citizens along Main Street in towns across America who are working to protect wilderness. It's our common ground, and they're making our democratic system work for all of us," says Matz.
The report profiles the efforts of teachers, a rancher, a contractor, a former county commissioner, a retired defense analyst and other citizens who are making a difference in ensuring that some of our original earth stays as it is today - wild and wonderful.