Search CalUWild.org
Cedar Mesa Cedar Mesa, Utah

Quotations (in no particular order)

The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.
          — Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the U.S. Forest Service

There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot. Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question of whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.
          — Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed. We need wilderness preserved—as much of it as still left, and as many kinds—because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there—important, that is, simply as an idea.
          — Wallace Stegner

We deeply need the humility to know ourselves as dependent members of a great community of life, and this can indeed be one of the spiritual benefits of a wilderness experience.
          — Howard Zahniser, Wilderness Act author

In wildness is the preservation of the world.
          — Henry David Thoreau

Take away wilderness and you take away the opportunity to be American.
          — Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind

We need wilderness because we are wild animals. Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace. Every Boy Scout troop deserves a forest to get lost, miserable, and starving in. Even the maddest murderer of the sweetest wife should get a chance for a run to the sanctuary of the hills. If only for the sport of it. For the terror, freedom, and delirium …
          — Edward Abbey, The Journey Home

The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information.
          — Edward Abbey

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am—a reluctant enthusiast … a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.
          — Edward Abbey

Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
          — Edward Abbey

We discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.
          — Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

The brook would lose its song if we removed the rocks.
          — Wallace Stegner

Westerners live outdoors more than people elsewhere because outdoors is mainly what they’ve got. For clerks and students, factory workers and mechanics, the outdoors is freedom, just surely as it is for the folkloric and mythic figures. They don’t have to own the outdoors, or get permission , or cut fences, in order to use it. It is public land, partly theirs, and that space is a continuing influence on their minds and senses. It encourages a fatal carelessness and destructiveness because it seems so limitless and because what is everybody’s is nobody’s responsibility. It also encourages, in some, an impassioned protectiveness: the battlegrounds of the environmental movement lie in the western public lands. Finally, it promotes certain needs, taste, attitudes, skills. It is those tastes, attitudes, and skills, as well as the prevailing destructiveness and its corrective, love of the land, that relate real Westerners to the myth.
          — Wallace Stegner from Variations on a Theme by Crevecoeur, 1987

[T]hose who haven’t the strength or youth to go into it and live can simply sit and look. They can look two hundred miles, clear into Colorado; and looking down over the cliffs and canyons of the San Rafael Swell and the Robbers’ Roost they can also look as deeply into themselves as anywhere I know. And if they can’t even get to the places on the Aquarius Plateau where the present roads will carry them, they can simply contemplate the idea, take pleasure in the fact that such a timeless and uncontrolled part of earth is still there… We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
          — Wallace Stegner, from The Sound of Mountain Water, 1969

If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art. If there is a western speech, I speak it; if there is a western character or personality, I am some variant of it; if there is a western culture in the small-“c”, anthropological sense, I have not escaped it. It has to have shaped me. I may even have contributed to it in minor ways, for culture is a pyramid to which each of us brings a stone.
          — Wallace Stegner, from Living Dry, 1987

You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time.
          — Wallace Stegner, from Thoughts in a Dry Land, 1972

But what pleasure it is to know that there is back county for them to retreat to, that nobody is going to push roads through that wilderness, that no RVs or trail bikes or tote goats will roar through those forests and stink up that clean air. The best thing we have learned from nearly five hundred years of contact with the American wilderness is restraint, the willingness to hold our hand: to visit such places for our souls’ good, but leave no tracks.
          — Wallace Stegner, from Crossing Into Eden, 1989

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we—you and I, and our government—must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
          — Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, from his Farewell Speech, 1961

The battle for conservation cannot be limited to the winning of new conquests. Like liberty itself, conservation must be fought for unceasingly to protect earlier victories. There are always plenty of hogs who are trying to get natural resources for their own personal benefit! Public lands and parks, our forests and our mineral reserves, are subject to many destructive influences. We have to remain constantly vigilant to prevent raids by those who would selfishly exploit our common heritage for their private gain. Such raids on our natural resources are not examples of enterprise and initiative. They are attempts to take from all the people for the benefit of a few.
          — President Harry S. Truman, December 1948, at the inauguration of Everglades National Park

It is not enough to understand the natural world. The point is to defend and preserve it.
          — Edward Abbey

Consider, for example, the question of “accessibility.” An area that cannot be reached is obviously not being put to use. On the other hand, one reached too easily becomes a mere “resort” to which people flock for purposes just as well served by golf courses, swimming pools, and summer hotels. Parks are often described as “recreation areas” and so they are. But the term “recreation” as ordinarily used does not imply much stress upon the kind of experience which Grand Canyon, despite the flood of visitors that comes to it, still does provide, namely, the experience of being in the presence of nature’s ways and nature’s work.
          — Joseph Wood Krutch — from What Men? What Needs?

This is so much the age of technology and the machine that machines come to be loved for their own sake rather than used for other ends. Instead, for instance, of valuing the automobile because it may take one to a national park, the park comes to be valued because it is a place the automobile may be used to reach. A considerable number of automobilists would like when they get there to do what they do at home or at the country club. An even greater number prefers to drive straight through so that they can use their machine to get somewhere else. They feel that to stop is simply to waste time, because time spent without the employment of some gadget is time wasted though it may to some extent be salvaged by turning on the radio. But is it for such as these that the parks should be maintained?
          — Joseph Wood Krutch — from What Men? What Needs?

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia
          — Charles A Lindbergh, declaring that if he were a young man he would choose a career that kept him more in contact with nature than with science.

There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty.
          — Pres. Teddy Roosevelt, speaking at Stanford University the day after he visited the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains and “delighted” in their splendor

Men who fear the strenuous life believe in that cloistered life which saps the hardy virtues in a nation as it saps them in the individual, or else they are wedded to the base spirit of gain and greed which recognize in commercialism the be-all and end-all of national life, instead of realizing that, though an indispensable element, it is, after all, but one of many elements that go to make up true national greatness.
          — Teddy Roosevelt, 1899