From the daily archives: Saturday, November 4, 2006

One of the Wilderness areas I haven’t spent much time in is Utah’s largest, the High Uintas Wilderness, which embraces much of this unique 13,000 foot plus east/west uplift (almost all of the Rocky Mountains run north/south).

The Wilderness is very popular in Utah with a few trailheads very crowded. I long wondered why most of the others were not, and Dr. John Carter of the Western Watersheds Project has provided some of the answer as well as revealing a dark underside of the compromises that were made to pass the Wilderness Act back in 1964–livestock grazing was grandfathered into Wilderness areas where it was already established.

Much of the High Uintas Wilderness is devastated by domestic sheep grazing. It’s remote country, but the influence of livestock, especially sheep is dramatic all the way to the rock line at 11,000 feet or more. In some of the big glaciated drainages there isn’t a drop of unpolluted water. Now the Western Watersheds Project has put out a report documenting the devastatation in detail.

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey