What is Wilderness?
Why is it important?
Wilderness, in its broadest definition, is a natural environment that has been mostly undisturbed by modern human activity. It is land in its natural state, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. In Wilderness, we get to see nature as it was before modern civilization arrived, and perhaps how it will be after we are gone.
Wilderness is the last refuge for rare, threatened and endangered species that would otherwise go extinct. Wilderness contains the headwaters of our great rivers. Wilderness filters the air that we breath. Wilderness inspires the soul. In Wilderness, those with an appetite for adventure can find a sense of self-reliance and experience solitude. Wilderness can give us glimpses of the stars and the Universe. It allows us to reconnect with nature and escape the hectic rush of the modern world. On a more practical level, Wilderness provides a natural environment for plant and animal species and allows scientists to study healthy ecosystems. How does nature adapt to climate change? What solutions do animals and plants find in their natural environment? Wilderness is an important place for researchers. Survivable concepts for agriculture and forestry as well as flood and climate protection can be developed with this knowledge.
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
President Lyndon B. Johnson upon his signing of the Wilderness Act, September 3rd, 1964
Less than 4% of America remains wilderness, and roughly half of that is in Alaska. The Teton Wilderness is a significant part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is the largest nearly intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states. At Exum, we celebrate the Teton Wilderness every time we head into the mountains.
However, there’s no place on Earth that is entirely free of human impact, and we encourage you to not dismiss areas whose wilderness is less than absolute. We can all work together to protect what Wilderness we have left.