Dr. Egan and Mrs. West-Puckett
6 May 2013
Writer’s Memo for Wilderness Manifesto
My topic about balancing the finite amount of land resources that we have available started with the discussion in Wilderness Writing about the various wilderness ethics. Once discussing these various ethics, I took my experiences from the readings, our class, and from my excursions into the wilderness to create my statement on this issue. This issue is important to me because when looking at how nations globally are transitioning into industrial eras, the need and amount of empty land will rise and fall. This paper was meant to give a solution to this upcoming problem, and to show why wilderness is a necessary component in our lives.
I did not spend much time planning this piece because I knew what I wanted to say, and if I came into a situation where I needed to know more about the topic, I would use our class readings or research the topic for guidance. I liked how this piece turned out because it provides a good background into my views of the wilderness and how a progressive world can still fit wilderness into its needs. One thing I need to improve on when looking at this piece is my vocabulary, and learning how to better articulate information. One thing that made writing this piece difficult was pulling in outside information to either support my views, or provide an alternative perspective. Even though this was troublesome, I believe that I successfully integrated this information in to let the audience further understand my reasonings.
Dr. Egan and Mrs. West-Puckett
6 May 2013
Writer’s Memo for Scouting Article
When planning this piece, I was trying to find a way to incorporate my experiences on the Boone trip into an organized writing. After contemplating many ideas, I decided to go with a magazine article, specifically one modeled off the scouting website. I took the formatting from these articles, and added my personal experience and the history of Grandfather Mountain. I think by doing this I could successfully incorporate my experiences as an eagle scout with research knowledge and the experience of hiking on Grandfather Mountain.
After writing the rough draft, Dr. Egan and Mrs. West-Puckett said to incorporate a nature versus society section that discussed how to conserve wilderness as well as adding more of my ethos as a scout to the piece. After adding these facets, I believe that the piece is very well rounded and can inform a variety of readers, not just scouts. The thing I liked about his piece was the background information about the mountain because it is information that most people do not know. If I was to change and focus on one thing with this piece, it would be the descriptive word used in my experience section. I did not use enough words to display my emotions and thoughts when hiking on the Profile trail. Besides that I believe that this work came together well and will provide good information for any reader interested in Grandfather Mountain.
Dr. Egan and Mrs. West-Puckett
6 May 2013
Writer’s Memo for Field Note Analysis
When writing this analysis about my field notes, I had to focus on the importance of taking field notes and the qualities that epitomizes them. I decide to mainly focus on the observations and descriptive word in each of my field notes. To find out why these qualities were more important than others, I thought logically and used the readings from our course that talked about field notes. By doing this, I found that these descriptive words and observations were needed to remember what everything looked like later.
With this paper I wanted to inform others why field notes are important, and what to focus on when writing field notes. Do to this I had to think about the specific characteristics displayed in my field notes, as well as the various ways I have taken field notes throughout the semester. I liked how I described what field notes are, how they should be written, and why they are significant. If I were to change anything in this piece, I would try to add more research from outside sources to provide further insight.
Dr. Egan and Mrs. West-Puckett
24 April 2013
Balancing the Use of Land
As earth begins to further industrialize, the need for unoccupied land space continues to escalate. Using the experiences gained from this class, along with a combination of wilderness ethics, and outside research, I will develop my own definition of wilderness. After generating this definition, I will confront the problem of balancing the needs of everyone with the finite amount of land available.
The Wilderness Writing seminar enabled students to experience many educational and awesome things such as hiking on Grandfather Mountain, climbing up the Hebron Rock Colony, canoeing and kayaking on the Roanoke River, and collecting sharks’ teeth at Green Spring’s Park. As we participated in these experiences, each student began to develop their own meaning of wilderness, and humans’ role in it. The development of our personal wilderness was not limited to these experiences, as every good scientist knows one must find research to back their findings, and with that mindset the class also reach various opinions and facts about wilderness. At first my definition of wilderness was like the general definition- any large tract of land that functioned without humans- bringing forth mind images such as the South American rainforest, Siberia, or Antarctica. The transformation of my wilderness definition began in the midst of hiking Grandfather Mountain. When we reached the top of the mountain and I saw the vast landscape filled with trees, houses, and mountains, I realized that humans do have a place among nature. I was not convinced, however, that Grandfather Mountain was synonymous with wilderness. When one can drive straight to the top of the mountain and get the same view that I had hiked hours to achieve, then perhaps it is not true wilderness. To me, it was as if the mountain had been tainted and marred by humans in their eagerness to attain and capture beauty.
In climbing Hebron, I noticed that the area was not very dense in animal life, but was abundantly surrounded in plant life. Remembering how the rocks felt under my feet and how I used tree limbs for support, I was able to conceptualized how important and interconnected each interaction between living organisms is; small animals use trees for shelter, bugs eat plants for food, and humans use nature to escape societal pressures. Every living thing on earth interacts with one another and each benefits from the interactions. The problem that comes into play is when humans pollute and over consume portions of the environment; the other life forms found within the habitat suffer and begin to degrade. Taking in the essence of my surroundings from atop Grandfather mountain, this truth became abundantly clear as I took in the manmade elements from the small homes that seem to fit with the landscape, to the giant ski resort on the top of Sugar Mountain that did not.
With the Roanoke trip, I was able to expand upon my wilderness definition development by including a basis for coexistence with non-human life. When canoeing down the river our class saw an abundance of animals living on the river, as well as plants in the area that did not exist in Greenville. Camping, making a fire, and practicing ‘leave no trace’, gave prime examples of how to coexist and take care of the land instead of using and abusing nature. It was on this Roanoke trip that my wilderness definition formulated and became a reality. Wilderness does not have to exclude humans, but the humans in the wilderness have to live with the earth and not control it. Wilderness is the coexistence of all life forms that thrive with the support from each other and are balanced together. This is what correlates cities from nature areas, in the city one has animal life, plant life, and human life, but the amount of human influence overpowers the influence of plants and animals. After experiencing these various activities through the class, many different types of known environmental ethics were shown to us. These various ethics were then to be used to develop our own personal wilderness ethic. The ones that correlated best with my beliefs were the ethical theories of ecology, anthropocentricism, land ethic, conservation, and sustainability. The sum of these ethics include focusing on the interactions between all life forms with land, while also being in tune with how humans can sustain this resource without hurting the earth or us. The anthropocentric view is also important because it establishes how land use affects our societal needs. Personally, anthropocentricism is what allows for humans to take action, as they can directly see how different issues affect the human race. By focusing on how industrial expansion damages humans, decisions can then be made to drastically change and alter the negative way humans interact with the environment.
In “The Land Ethic”, Leopold discusses the ethical evolution of including the land into our ethical definitions. One example he uses to support this transition is, “When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy, he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his house-hold, whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence. This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a matter of expediency, not of right and wrong”(Leopold Land Ethic). Some humans just a few centuries ago were just considered property, just like land; if these slaves were eventually regarded as their own being, then so can land. Land is a living organism, just like the rest of us, and if it were considered in ethical principle- humans would learn to perform sustainable acts while still thriving.
Other ethical principles that I have not been able to find common ground with are biodiversity, preservation, frontier, and conservation. For different reasons, these principles were not included in the formation of my definition of wilderness,
- Biodiversity, because it is singularly focused on the amount of species in a specific amount of land, without including all species,
- Preservation because it involves humans having no contact with land,
- Frontier, as it emphasizes that society needs to continue to expand while disregarding the land,
- Conservation usually focuses on one species of animal that is endangered instead of an entire ecosystem.
The common theme with all of these afore mentioned ethics is that they are not balanced; each one focuses too much on one category, while ignoring others. By taking in multiple ethics and making my own definition I have created a fundamental balance between human and environment, while attempting to meet everyone’s needs.
Another interesting work that Leopold wrote is called “Wilderness”, which discusses the overconsumption of man towards the wilderness. This work by Leopold talks about the loss of wilderness and how everything in nature that we see today is dwarfed in comparison to when it was untouched by humans. The diversity in wilderness directly shaped the various cultures around the world. Because of the destruction of this wilderness, Leopold states that some values gained from the wilderness need to be preserved or they will be lost. In the article, each section talks about the various groups or activities that need the wilderness, and how each can use nature without completely destroying it. These sections include: recreation, science, wildlife, and the defenders of wilderness. By conserving the amount of land used for each worldly use, society can save the values that Leopold cares so much for (Leopold Wilderness).
An equally titillating essay by DeFries, Foley, and Asner, focuses on the cycle of using land to provide our various need. It examines the balancing of economic and ecological needs from each ecosystem. According to this essay, “83% of the land surface is either directly or indirectly affected by human influences” (DeFries). This figure seems low because “The remaining large tracts of wild lands are located where it is too cold, too hot, or too inaccessible” (DeFries). This is why it will be nearly impossible to prevent further human interaction with wilderness, due to the large projected increase in human population in the next 200 years. Because humans have such a major influence on the environment, wilderness is based on societal values. An example of this influence is shown in Puerto Rico when the land has shifted from being 10% forest in the 1940s to more than 40% currently (DeFries). This shift is due to the increase in manufacturing and urbanization in Puerto Rico. Showing that with urbanization, the growth of forests and natural habitat actually increases because the population is condensed into a small area. Even though this population is denser, the need for more food is crucial due to the population increase; however, as society around the globe continues to move into a post-industrial era, the efficiency of agriculture and manufacturing will increase, leading to a growth in natural landscape.
One development that has contributed to the balance of land use is the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. They have set up a system called conservation easement that is “a legally binding contract between a landowner and a land trust. With this contract, the landowner agrees to permanently eliminate some of the uses of their land, while retaining ownership and control.” These limited uses are meant to protect the landscape, and the natural resources on it. This agreement is beneficial to the land owning party because they are allowed to pass it down to younger generations, but they must abide by the rules in the contract; also, the owners get tax incentives and receive 30% back on the adjusted income of the property. This is significant because it not only considers the sustainability ethic, but also the anthropocentric ethic. This conservation easement could be spread to the rest of America and can help attribute to the balance of resource use and sustainability across all types of land.
An argument against the conservation of land is that it hurts the overall economy of the area. These statements are usually said without prior thinking or research in tax laws and other factors. One argument against the threat of reduced tax income from conserved land is that many of these conservation lands are actually taxed, and even if they were not, the reduction of taxable land would provide an increase in school funding from the state (Audubon). Another economic reason to conserve land is the tourism and recreation attracted by the protected land; in the year 2000 Maine alone profited $600 million from tourists visiting for outdoor purposes. Imagine if every state earned a margin of this type of profit from outdoor recreation, the economic benefits would be substantial. The main reason for preserving this land is not how much it increases profitability, but how it prevents future costs. One example is provided in a piece by Maine Audubon, “the cost to create wetlands for flood control, for example, is on the order of 100 times what it would cost through simple land protection efforts” (Audubon). By protecting certain lands we would be benefitting the ecosystem, the outdoorsmen, the economy, and our quality of life.
Continuing on the aspect of quality of life, wilderness has been known to have positive psychological effects. Some of these benefits include relaxation and stress reduction, increased mental well-being, physical rejuvenation, improved self-esteem, and a positive influence in child development (Davis). This goes along with Cronan’s observation that humans are naturally drawn to the wilderness to get away from societal pressures and to face challenges not normally met in regular life (Cronan). This is why in many cities there is and plants and park life are incorporated around the city. Dillard also proves this case when she is only a few minutes from her home, yet she experiences the fulfillment from being in the wild (Dillard). This is why when balancing land use we must also consider the importance of clean-plentiful land on our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
While humans need land for economic and personal reasons, the other beings of this earth need their own land. The reason uninhabited land is needed is largely due to the destructive effects of continued recreational and industrial use. One article by Jason Cotting talks about the impact that most leave on the environment by categorizing it into three categories: visual, audial, and physical impact. “Visual impact is anything that can be seen in the wilderness that doesn’t belong there naturally,” and “audible impact is any noise made that is not heard in the normal day to day life of the wilderness” (Cotting). These are negative because “Many people seek the outdoors as a place of solitude to get away from people so they don’t wish to see any body else during their stay” (Cotting). Another reason is that when animals see and hear people consistently in an area, they will refuse to return to that area; a worse consequence might also happen, dangerous predators like bears might be drawn to the human presence and will cause dangers to the humans there. The worst of these is physical impact, “the result of damage to the wilderness” (Cotting). Physically harming the wilderness not only ruins the experience for future humans, but it also creates damage that takes hundreds of years to undo. This is why there needs to be places where no humans can access, so that the ecosystem can thrive and not be damaged. Edward Wilson backs this isolation by providing strong reasons for conserving land; these reasons are, “the growing human population is destroying the environment, science is finding ways to use biodiversity to help people, it should be preserved for anthropocentric reasons, and the destruction of habitats and extinctions are causing losses in biodiversity” (Wilson).
While taking into consideration the previous information, I believe that the systems that need to be balanced are industrial, recreational, and conservational purposes. Each need would be given a certain amount of land based on the pressing need for each. Obviously industrial would take the most land because to provide the earth’s population with enough food, water, and other products, a substantial amount of land is needed. Recreation would probably have the smallest amount because even though humans need isolation and interaction with the wilderness, not too much land is needed to achieve this goal. Another reason that recreational land is more adaptable than the others is that lots of small plots of land can be put across the earth to supplement this need while the other two needs large plots of land. The conservational need is the most troublesome because large tracts of continuous land are needed for an ecosystem to truly thrive; another problem is that there is only a small percentage of land left that has been uninfluenced by humans. A way to trump this issue is to protect a variety of ecosystems and allow a small amount of humans at one time to experience this ecosystem. That way people are not completely destroying the land, yet they can still interact and experience the wilderness. By only allowing a small amount onto the land, there would be no damage done to the environment, and humans would be slowly reincorporated back into the wilderness.
Although these goals seem unrealistic, it is important to set expectations high so that they can be met in the future. When Martin Luther King Jr. performed his famous speech and said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” was he thinking realistically? He was thinking what was ethically and morally right, and that is how everyone must think if we truly want to incorporate responsible land management into our society. This is why it is important for everyone to develop a wilderness definition and ethic, so that we can all begin to acknowledge the importance of a balanced and healthy environment.
DeFries, Ruth S., Foley, Jonathan A., and Asner, Gregory P. “Land-use Choices: Balancing Human Needs and Ecosystem Function.” Frontier Ecology Environment 2.5 (2004): 249-57. Frontiersinecology.org. The Ecology Society of America. Web.
“Conservation Easement Frequently Asked Questions.” CMLC. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
Audubon, Maine. “The Economic Arguments for Conservation.” Maine Audubon. N.p., n.d. Web.
Davis, John, Ph.D. “Psychological Benefits of Nature.” Psychological Benefits of Nature. Naropa University and School of Lost Borders, May 2008. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Cotting, Jason A. “The Environmental Impact of Outdoor Recreation.” Diss. David Sites, 1998. Web.
Leopold, Aldo. “The Land Ethic.” A Sand County Almanac. 1948 ed. Web. 16 April 2013.
Leopold, Aldo. “Wilderness.” A Sand County Almanac. 1984 ed. Web. 16 April 2013.
Cronon, W. The Trouble with Wilderness. N.p.: Shiplee, B, 2004. Print.
Wilson, Edward O., and Frances M. Peter. Biodiversity. Washington, D.C.: National Academy, 1988. Print.
Annie, Dillard. “Living Like Weasels”. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
For Earth day I decided to just lay in the grass and relax, something I do not usually do. After lying for a while, I decided to light a cigarette. A thought then came into my head about cigarettes and one brand came into mind, American Spirit. This company sports a Native American on the front of their packaging; this brought back memories of our class debate and the subject of humans wanting to be in wilderness. By putting a Native American on their package, and by focusing on being “organic” American Spirit is drawing in people with the urge for nature. Instead of them actually going out and experiencing the wilderness, they are instead content with buying more natural cigarettes. This thought than transformed into one of how our society today interacts so differently with the wilderness. When the Native Americans were untouched by settlers, they worked with the land and used everything to its fullest potential. When the settlers came and took everything away, the relationship changed from cooperation into ownership and conquering of the land. This led to the relationship most people have with wilderness today, it is a nice thought to experience wilderness, but why go when you can what nature channels on television or go to the park. This is why our society must focus on working with the land, so that everyone can see how important our interaction with the wilderness really is.