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The Vanishing North American Wilderness (PHOTOS)

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The concept of state wilderness preservation began in the United States in 1832 when Congress and President Andrew Jackson set aside 2,600 acres as a reserve in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1864, under President Abraham Lincoln, more land was designated in California's Yosemite Valley and Great Sequoia areas. The world's first national park designation, Yellowstone, was established by Congress in 1872. Australia became home to the world's second national park, the Royal National Park, in 1879 and Canada's first national park, now called Banff, was founded in 1885. By 2006 there were 6,555 national parks, worldwide.

By 2008 more than 107 million acres had been set aside in the United States as designated wilderness, with many new areas, including 9 million acres of a proposed Red Rocks Wilderness in Utah, waiting in the wings.

In this book, Rod Nash's essays, plus my captions and journal notes, provide the text, but it is the photos that truly tell the story. Included are photos from twenty-seven states, nine Canadian provinces, and three Central American countries. The images selected are not necessarily from places formally designated as wilderness. A few photos show the impact of civilization on areas adjacent to or surrounded by wilderness. Some areas are federal or state parks, preserves, and monuments without a wilderness designation, but all of the photos have a wilderness connection.

My hope is that these photos and the words of Rod Nash will challenge and encourage you to seek out your own wilderness experiences and memories, and that you will help to preserve these places for future generations.