my role in wilderness
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. My first two winters were full of office-work, but not this past winter. I was laid off for the first time (like a normal seasonal employee, thank goodness), and worked with a Wilderness Alliance on another Forest. They're working hard to designate another Wilderness Area because it takes an act of Congress to designate a place as "Wilderness" whereas pretty much anything can be called wilderness. In order to earn the capital "W," it's got to be completely "untrammeled by man."
That's where I come in.
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'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 so lost 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.
Aldo Leopold said, "There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot."
We are the type of people who cannot.