Capital "W" Wilderness


"I come more and more to the conclusion that Wilderness, in America or anywhere else, is the only thing left that is worth saving." -Ed Abbey


Since April 2013, I have worked for the United States Forest Service protecting the most visited Wilderness Area per acre in America. My friends & family know that when the summer season rolls around, I'm gone. They won't be hearing from me or seeing me until October because I have work to do. The past two winters have been full of office-work, but not this winter. I've been laid off for the first time (like a normal seasonal employee, thank goodness), and am currently working with a Wilderness Alliance on another Forest. We're working to designate another Wilderness Area. You see... it takes an act of Congress to designate a place as "Wilderness" whereas pretty much anything can be called wilderness. Are you following? In order to earn the capital "W," it's got to be completely "untrammeled by man."

That's where I come in.

photo taken in Desolation Wilderness by @dpleevale

photo taken in Desolation Wilderness by @dpleevale

I've been told that my passion for Wilderness is more of an obsession, and that's okay with me. I have a copy of the 1964 Wilderness Act on my iPhone's home screen and I recite excerpts from it in my head whenever I get the chance. I have a bold tattoo on my arm inspired by Aldo Leopold's land ethic and the only historical facts I remember are ones related to Wilderness (like President Johnson signing the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964... I don't even know what else Johnson did in his career because I don't care). Anyway, where do I come in again? Quite simply, I've decided to partner my fiery passion for Wilderness and my magnetic draw to social media in order to light the "wild" fire for others. Most people who live & work to protect Wilderness aren't very tech-savvy, but I feel it's extremely important to let the world know that Wilderness doesn't protect itself. Remember how Wilderness is supposed to be "untrammeled by man?" The #1 threat to wild places in America is humans. In a strange way, by protecting Wilderness from people, I've discovered that Wilderness protects me from the rest of the world. In fact, I find myself regularly wondering who I would be had I not discovered Wilderness three years ago.

I would be such an incompetent loser if Desolation Wilderness hadn't persistently reached out to me so strongly. This is a Wilderness Area southwest of Lake Tahoe, CA, and it is the only "Desolation Wilderness" in the world. I swear I become the best version of myself when I'm there. Sure, it's a huge perk that I get to work alongside so many incredible environmentalists to protect it, but oh man... just to be there. Under any circumstances. There's nothing like it. If you haven't been in a true, designated Wilderness Area, I highly recommend that you make it happen for yourself ASAP. In Wilderness, nothing is altered. It's where we allow nature to roll the dice without any interference from us. Being that roads and structures aren't allowed in Wilderness, the only way to get in is to hike, so the people you meet are unbelievably down-to-earth, appreciative, and are people that you will want to be friends with forever. I have plenty of stories from the time I've spent with the Forest Service thus far, and I would be happy to share them in future blog posts if anyone's interested. For now, I'll leave this post be.


I'm sure if you're still reading this, you can relate to me on some level.

Aldo Leopold said, "There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot."

We are the type of people who cannot. 

"Wilderness Rangers After Hours" photo taken in Desolation Wilderness by @mirandaleconte

"Wilderness Rangers After Hours"

photo taken in Desolation Wilderness by @mirandaleconte