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Thread: What is wilderness?

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    Smile What is wilderness?

    Hi all,

    I am currently writing a paper on 'What is wilderness'. I find this subject very interesting and I don't know much, but wanting to learn.
    My background is Adventure and I am enjoying exploring all the different areas that comes with it.
    Wilderness I can imagine, means different things to different people.
    If you all could write a sentence or two about what you think wilderness is and what it means to you, I think it will make a very interesting discussion.
    I'm looking to find out whether the meaning has changed over time and where we think it is going to go.
    If you don't mind stating your age and job title that would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you in advance and i'm looking forward to seeing the responses.


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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I'll make you a deal. Head over to the introduction section and tell us about yourself, including the information you want us to provide you and I'll answer your question.
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    Hunter63 Saying Hey and Welcome....from Wisconsin.
    I agree an introduction would be nice.

    Answer to your question......
    Out of cell phone range......and thing else,.... you are just a phone call away.
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    Senior Member WolfVanZandt's Avatar
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    Funny how a modern definition of wilderness can be so much clearer and crisper than past definitions, when wilderness was so much closer. I don't think I can come up with a better definition.

    I'm 64 and am a retired vocational evaluator.
    Last edited by WolfVanZandt; 02-06-2018 at 02:17 PM.
    True enough, my final home is still out there, but this is most certainly my home range and I love it. I love every rock I fall off and tree I trip over. Even when I am close to dying from exhaustion, a beautiful sunset doesn't lose it's power to refresh and inspire me and that, in itself, is enough to save me sometimes.

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    Senior Member Antonyraison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    I'll make you a deal. Head over to the introduction section and tell us about yourself, including the information you want us to provide you and I'll answer your question.
    Hmmmm I have to agree..
    So many people just want to do hit and run posts and have no desire to stay around etc.
    You wash our hands we wash yours.
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    Before I retired I taught course entitled "Social Problems in Conservation." It was my most popular course, with yearly enrollments in the hundreds. There was nor a section where your question did not come up for discussion. Understand that most students were urban dwellers from places like metro Detroit. [I] always taught that Wilderness was more a state of mind than a set of criteria. I always ask them where did they think wilderness began, if you drew a straight line from the Ohio border north into western Ontario. I usually got as many different answers as students in the class. I would choose an answer like te northern border of Macomb/Oakland counties or Eight mile Road. A lot of hands would go up to disagree with me but I would add that in my experience and opinion, wilderness began there IF I was going SOUTH!
    The best generally accepted definition of wilderness (which I stressed in my class) , is a moderate to large area of land substancially with out the evidence of the impact of human actions. (Difficult and probably impossible to find today) I used that as a introduction to how various definitions are based in an individuals past experiences. I had a "Wilderness Moose Hunt" spoiled by more airplane traffic that the landing pattern at Detroit Metro. I also told them that some wilderness advocates will not call an area "Wilderness if they themselves are standing there!
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Definitions are a funny thing....

    As part of the company/union contract negotiation team....I came to my attention there are 12 variation to the word "THE"
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    Senior Member WolfVanZandt's Avatar
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    Old Professor, I would call that "wildness". If you've ever seen Instinct, Cuba Gooding's character was not wild, Anthony Hopkin's character was. Wild people are ambassadors of wilderness. Where an ambassador is, they carry their country with them. Wild people don't hold tightly to societal mores (like most do). Their culture is malleable (like most people's aren't). They re-adapt well to different surroundings because they are the wild. Humans (most animals) tend to be conservative and don't like change. Wildness is characterized by diversity and chaos (in the scientific sense). Wild people like that stuff. Wild people are wild in the middle of civilization.
    True enough, my final home is still out there, but this is most certainly my home range and I love it. I love every rock I fall off and tree I trip over. Even when I am close to dying from exhaustion, a beautiful sunset doesn't lose it's power to refresh and inspire me and that, in itself, is enough to save me sometimes.

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    I find a question like this interesting. Here's my take on it...

    I figure that something like this is more subjective than one might first think that it is once they make themselves delve into it. You will run into a few well-but-wait-a-minute's whenever you think that you have some applicable objective logic nailed down, but in looking for some kind of universal definitive, I meander a bit to demonstrate some ways to think about it that might be useful.

    Somewhere else in here it is asked "what is primitive", and it's realized that it can really just be relative to any given technological state or ability to employ such or way of life - what we think is primitive now, was advanced at some point. What that might mean is that we should focus on the "prime" part of the concept...as in whatever was "before" any given point or practice. In other words, "primitive" doesn't refer to an immutable absolute set of criteria. However, one of the points made in discussions like this is that places we think are "wild" were really influenced greatly by human hands in the past...and I'm going to say something about that little part later.

    I knew of this sci-fi show once in which there were a lot of horses, cowboy hats, and revolvers along with spaceships. The show was popularly described as a space western...simply because of the presence of revolvers and cowboy hats and horses. But that didn't seem to make sense to me. That can't be the definitive of a western, can it? Of course, thinking about this can be tricky because of the fact that sci-fi is everything else anyway...drama, action, mystery, romance, western, legal: The sci-fi spectrum is potentially as wide as all of these put together...IS all of them, though it kinda does have it's own extra definitive. But I have tentatively concluded that a western is any story taking place within a frontier...or maybe more specifically a morality tale in a frontier or the 'wild'. But what is a frontier? What is 'the wild'? I'm tempted to believe that it comes down to Rule Of Law. Some central and mostly adhered-to and enforceable set of laws - civilization. In the wild, and on a frontier, you don't have that very much, and morality questions mean more in such an environment where you don't have police stations, etc, versus a sheriff and some deputies and an occasional posse, some mostly-universally recognized cultural zeitgeist of behavior.

    So make yourself explore what IS a western...a frontier...the wild...primitive? And then what IS wilderness? Exploring these questions, in the right way, might be more useful than finding any objective absolute universally-applicable answer to the questions.

    I think that the part where some area of the landscape is in it's current state partly because of human influence in the past might begin to not matter when asking whether or not it is a wilderness. 'Wilderness' is really relative to the human experience - it's not necessarily wilderness for the prairie dogs or the owls or the fish. Just to the humans, if it is. To some point, we have to consider human influence upon the landscape to be the same as any other organism's influence - just because we did something to it doesn't make it be or not be wilderness.

    So I figure, tentatively, that A] wilderness would be whenever a certain locale's goings-ons...ecologically, let's say...operate according to dynamics mostly other than from human direction, and B] things that are necessary for Humans to live to some degree of convenience are not "in place"...there is no 'grid', and C] there is no human Rule Of Law, "conventionally" speaking. If I tried to come up with some definitive of wilderness, that might be my answer.
    Last edited by WalkingTree; 02-10-2018 at 01:49 PM.
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    The kid is more than likely writing a paper as home work for a class. He now probably enough info to finish it. Just my two cents worth.

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    Walking Tree, To expand on your last paragraph and expound on the idea that 'Wilderness" is a 'state of mind", consider that when the European settlers came to North America and looked west, the "wilderness" that they saw was well populated by native peoples , who grew crops and domesticated animals, as well as hunting and fishing but with much less "technology", which they eagerly adopted from the European traders and settlers. Why hunt with a bow and arrow when the traders would give you a firearm for a stack of furs or cook in a wooden or bark container when traders had those durable metal pots or wear animal hides when the traders offered warm woolen blankets. Many scholars have claimed that the decline in native culture was the result of the introduction of manufactured trade goods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Williepete View Post
    The kid is more than likely writing a paper as home work for a class. He now probably enough info to finish it. Just my two cents worth.

    Bill
    I'm betting that's exactly what's going on and it wouldn't be the first time. For once, I'd like to see some deliberately misleading answers...teach the knucklehead a valuable lesson.

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    I dont see anymore interaction from the OP.
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    There usually isn't which is why I made the post I did.
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    Senior Member Antonyraison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    There usually isn't which is why I made the post I did.
    I get you
    So rude of these people not to engauge in topics they started... sigh
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    Senior Member WalkingTree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Professor View Post
    Walking Tree, To expand on your last paragraph and expound on the idea that 'Wilderness" is a 'state of mind", consider that when the European settlers came to North America and looked west, the "wilderness" that they saw was well populated by native peoples , who grew crops and domesticated animals, as well as hunting and fishing but with much less "technology", which they eagerly adopted from the European traders and settlers. Why hunt with a bow and arrow when the traders would give you a firearm for a stack of furs or cook in a wooden or bark container when traders had those durable metal pots or wear animal hides when the traders offered warm woolen blankets. Many scholars have claimed that the decline in native culture was the result of the introduction of manufactured trade goods.
    Heh, yea...what you said.

    Heck, when I look at this, I think "wilderness".

    The pessimist complains about the wind;
    The optimist expects it to change;
    The realist adjusts the sails.

    - William Arthur Ward

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