By The Bakersfield Californian
As noted in The Californian's April 19 editorial "Don't tear down efforts to protect US wilderness," Rep. Kevin McCarthy, one of the rising stars in Washington and "Young Gun," is now aiming his legislative weapon against more wilderness. However, he needs to be reminded of the following: When the Pilgrims and others landed here in the 17th century, 100 percent of the land was wilderness. Today, that figure has dwindled to 2 percent. Of importance is the concept that neither government nor people "create wilderness"; it is formed by nature.
The 1964 Wilderness Act clearly defines wilderness as "... an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain ... an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence ... which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation ..."
Therefore, our role as players within the realm of nature is to identify and protect what nature has given us. We cannot manufacture wilderness. We cannot import wilderness. We can, however, identify it and protect it.