Editorial Perspectives  

December 2015 | Volume 231, Number 3


Following the celebration of the first 50 years of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), we have put away the reusable champagne glasses and biodegradable confetti to once again continue work for wilderness. Deciding what to do and what not to do is challenging. Like a functional and healthy family, we will have our disagreements, and our strength is tolerance of our differences and mutual support of wild places and nature.

We can sit for days and debate how well the dream was realized, its shortcomings, and its strengths; opportunities foregone and threats to wilderness conditions and character; its probable future success and/or demise; and dozens of other related topics – all worthy of thought, consideration, discussion, debate, and then action. There is no shortage of opinions and passionate arguments. We are confident that we, as a wilderness community, will find that way forward for the next 50 years – sometimes incrementally and sometimes in bold steps – but always with all the enthusiasm, passion, diverse opinion, debate, conflict, and conviction that have marked its history to date.

In this issue of IJW, there are six articles offering different perspectives about defining wilderness character and monitoring the conditions of wilderness. What they do agree on is that we need to continue to find a way forward for the future of the NWPS and to continue to realize and receive the values and benefits of wilderness. Stewart Brandborg reminds us of the passion of the early wilderness movement in his article on wildness and its importance in defining wilderness character, Dvorak summarizes the forthcoming interagency report on wilderness character monitoring, Martinez outlines the perspective of the Wilderness Policy Council on wilderness character monitoring, Nagle offers a legal opinion on the agency implementation of wilderness character monitoring, Collins describes monitoring efforts on wildlife refuges in Oregon, and Griffin expresses concern for wilderness character monitoring that does not include a historic baseline.

Cordell and colleagues compare the similarities and differences in wilderness values between managers and the public. Ghimire and coauthors report on how the American public perceives the benefits of wilderness and expresses its support for wilderness. Finally, Hawes and colleagues assess the value of wilderness in a World Heritage Area in Tasmania.

CHAD DAWSON is the editor in chief of IJW; email: cpdawson@esf.edu.

ROBERT DVORAK is managing editor of IJW and associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services Administration at Central Michigan University; email: dvora1rg@cmich.edu.