But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need - if only we had eyes to see.
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) - Desert Solitaire (1968) "Down the River", p. 147.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) - Desert Solitaire (1968) "Down the River", p. 148.

The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) - The Journey Home (1991) "Shadows from the Big Woods", p. 223.

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) - Quoted in Readers Digest, Jan. 1970

Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should — not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.
Senator Clinton P. Anderson (NM) - American Forests, July 1963

The reason to preserve wilderness is that we need it. We need wilderness of all kinds, large and small, public and private. Wee need to go now and again into places where our work is disallowed, where our hopes and plans have no standing. We need to come into the presence of the unqualified and mysterious formality of Creation.
Wendell Berry - "Preserving Wilderness," Home Economics (1987)

There are endless ways to amuse oneself and be idle, and most of them lie outside the woods. I assume that when a man goes to the woods he goes because he needs to. I think he is drawn to the wilderness much as he is drawn to a woman: it is, in its way, his opposite. It is as far as possible unlike his home or his work or anything he will ever manufacture. For that reason he can take from it a solace—an understanding of himself, of what he needs and what he can do without—such as he can find nowhere else.
Wendell Berry (1934 - ) The Unforseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River George, University Press of Kentucky, 1971

Going to the woods and the wild places has little to do with recreation, and much to do with creation. For the wilderness is the creation in its pure state, its processes unqualified by the doings of people. A man in the woods comes face to face with the creation, of which he must begin to see himself a part—a much less imposing part than he thought. And seeing that the creation survives all wishful preconceptions about it, that it includes him only upon its own sovereign terms, that he is not free except in his proper place in it, then he may begin, perhaps, to take a hand in the creation of himself.
Wendell Berry (1934 - ) The Unforseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River George, University Press of Kentucky, 1971

As long as we insist on relating to it strictly on our own terms—as strange to us or subject to us—the wilderness is alien, threatening, fearful.
Wendell Berry (1934 - ) The Unforseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River George, University Press of Kentucky, 1971

As long as we insist on relating to it strictly on our own terms—as strange to us or subject to us—the wilderness is alien, threatening, fearful. We have no choice then but to become its exploiters, and to lose, by consequence, our place in it. It is only when, by humility, openness, generosity, courage, we make ourselves able to relate to it on its terms that it ceases to be alien.
Wendell Berry (1934 - ) The Unforseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River George, University Press of Kentucky, 1971

Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness. Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. America developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges. If we lose wilderness, we lose forever the knowledge of what the world was and what it might, with understanding and loving husbandry, yet become. These are islands in time — with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.
Harvey Broome - co founder, The Wilderness Society

These are islands in time -- with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.
Harvey Broome

To me, a wilderness is where the flow of wildness is essentially uninterrupted by technology; without wilderness the world is a cage.
David Brower

If we are to have broad-thinking men and women of high mentality, of good physique and with a true perspective on life, we must allow our populace a communion with nature in areas of more or less wilderness condition.
Arthur Carhart (U.S. Forest Service official and pioneer in wilderness preservation movement)

I held a blue flower in my hand, probably a wild aster, wondering what its name was, and then thought that human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its color until the blends becomes as real as a keynote of music. Look at the exquisite yellow flowerettes at the center, become very small with them. Be the flower, be the trees, the blowing grasses. Fly with the birds, jump with a squirrel!
Sally Carrighar - Home to the Wilderness

The great purpose is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it... It is a great spiritual experience. I never knew a man who took a bedroll into an Idaho mountainside and slept there under a star-studded summer sky who felt self-important that next morning. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.
Senator Frank Church (1957-1981)

The wilderness is a place of rest -- not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance.
David Douglas - Scottish botanist, Wilderness Sojourn: Notes in the Desert Silence

The Arctic has a call that is compelling. The distant mountains [of the Brooks Range in Alaska] make one want to go on and on over the next ridge and over the one beyond. The call is that of a wilderness known only to a few...This last American wilderness must remain sacrosanct.
William O. Douglas (U.S. Supreme Court Justice), from a speech by Jimmy Carter on February 29, 1980

The wooing of the Earth thus implies much more than converting the wilderness into humanized environments. It means also preserving natural environments in which to experience mysteries transcending daily life and from which to recapture, in a Proustian kind of remembrance, the awareness of the cosmic forces that have shaped humankind.
Rene Dubos - French-American microbiologist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

When all the dangerous cliffs are fenced off, all the trees that might fall on people are cut down,all of the insects that bite are poisoned... and all of the grizzlies are dead because they are occasionally dangerous, the wilderness will not be made safe. Rather, the safety will have destroyed the wilderness.
R. Yorke Edwards

We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.
John Hope Franklin

"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. 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, on the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964

If you look throughout human history ... the central epiphany of every religious tradition always occurs in the wilderness.
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength.
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) - Lonseome Traveler, Grove Press, NY, NY, 1960, p.128

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.
Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), Today and All Its Yesterdays, 1958.

Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation's character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - A Plea for Wilderness Hunting Grounds, Outdoor Life, November 1925. Reproduced in Aldo Leopold's Southwest, edited by David E. Brown & Neil B. Carmony, University of New Mexico Press, 1990, pg. 160-161.

Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - A Sand County Almanac 1949

Thus always does history, whether of marsh or market place, end in paradox. The ultimate value in these marshes is wildness and the crane is wildness incarnate. But all conversation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) -A Sand County Almanac 1949

For unnumbered centuries of human history the wilderness has given way. The priority of industry has become dogma. Are we as yet sufficiently enlightened to realize that we must now challenge that dogma, or do without our wilderness? Do we realize that industry, which has been our good servant, might make a poor master?
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - A Plea for Wilderness Hunting Grounds, Outdoor Life, November 1925. Reproduced in Aldo Leopold's Southwest, edited by David E. Brown & Neil B. Carmony, University of New Mexico Press, 1990, pg. 160-161.

The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - Wilderness Values, 1941

All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - A Sand County Almanac 1949

Ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down, in the last analysis, to a question of intellectual humility. The shallow-minded modern who has lost his rootage in the land assumes that he has already discovered what is important.
Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) - A Sand County Almanac 1949

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
Charles A. Lindbergh, Life, 22 December 1967

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as "wild." Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness" and only to him was the land "infested" with "wild" animals and "savage" people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it "wild" for us. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was that for us the "Wild West" began.
Luther Standing Bear (Native American author)

There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness. In a civilization which requires most lives to be passed amid inordinate dissonance, pressure and intrusion, the chance of retiring now and then to the quietude and privacy of sylvan haunts becomes for some people a psychic necessity. The preservation of a few samples of undeveloped territory is one of the most clamant issues before us today. Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books...To avoid this catastrophe demands immediate action.
Robert Marshall, co-founder, The Wilderness Society

Finally, there are those whose chief purpose in visiting the forests is simply an escape from civilization. These people want to rest from the endless chain of mechanization and artificiality which bounds their lives. In the forest they temporarily abandon a routine to which they cannot become wholly reconciled, and return to that nature in which hundreds of generations of their ancestors were reared.
Robert Marshall - The People’s Forests (1933) (2003)

To countless people the wilderness provides the ultimate delight because it combines the thrills of jeopardy and beauty. It is the last stand for that glorious adventure into the physically unknown that was commonplace in the lives of our ancestors and has always constituted a major factor in the happiness of many exploratory souls.
Robert Marshall

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
John Muir

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world—the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.
John Muir - Alaska Fragment (1890)

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.
John Muir - Life and Letters of John Muir (1924)

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
John Muir

Wilderness is not only a haven for native plants and animals but it is also a refuge from society. Its a place to go to hear the wind and little else, see the stars and the galaxies, smell the pine trees, feel the cold water, touch the sky and the ground at the same time, listen to coyotes, eat the fresh snow, walk across the desert sands, and realize why its good to go outside of the city and the suburbs. Fortunately, there is wilderness just outside the limits of the cities and the suburbs in most of the United States, especially in the West.
John Muir

Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on?
Margaret (Mardy) Murie, author, conservationist and member of The Wilderness Society Council

There is growing awareness of the beauty of country ... a sincere desire to keep some of it for all time. People are beginning to value highly the fact that a river runs unimpeded for a distance... They are beginning to obtain deep satisfaction from the fact that a herd of elk may be observed in back country, on ancestral ranges, where the Indians once hunted them. They are beginning to seek the healing relaxation that is possible in wild country. In short, they want it.
Olaus J. Murie

The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.
Nancy Newhall - from "This is the American Earth." quoted in John McPhee's, Encounters with the Archdruid, 1971

Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.
Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) - We Need Wilderness," National Parks Magazine, January–March 1946

How often we speak of the great silences of the wilderness and of the importance of preserving them and the wonder and peace to be found there. When I think of them, I see the lakes and rivers of the North, the muskegs and expenses of tundra, the barren lands beyond all roads. I see the mountain ranges of the West and the high, rolling ridges of the Appalachians. I picture the deserts of the Southwest and their brilliant panoramas of color, the impenetrable swamp lands of the South. They will always be there and their beauty may not change, but should their silences be broken, they will never be the same.
Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) - Listening Point, Alfred Knopf, NY, NY, 1958

I have discovered in a lifetime of traveling in primitive regions, a lifetime of seeing people living in the wilderness and using it, that there is a hard core of wilderness need in everyone, a core that makes its spiritual values a basic human necessity. There is no hiding it….Unless we can preserve places where the endless spiritual needs of man can be fulfilled and nourished, we will destroy our culture and ourselves.
Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) - Address to Sierra Club Conference, 1965, quoted on http://listeningpointfoundation.org/sig-olson/

Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. It is what we leave behind that is important. I think the matter of simplicity goes further than just food, equipment, and unnecessary gadgets; it goes into the matter of thoughts and objectives as well. When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.
Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) - Reflections from the North Country, Knopf, NY, NY, 1976

Beauty is composed of many things and never stands alone. It is part of horizons, blue in the distance, great primeval silences, knowledge of all things of the earth. It embodies the hopes and dreams of those who have gone before, including the spirit world; it is so fragile it can be destroyed by a sound or thought. It may be infinitesimally small or encompass the universe itself. It comes in a swift conception wherever nature has not been disturbed.
Sigurd F. Olson (1899-1982) - Reflections from the North Country, Knopf, NY, NY, 1976

There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. There is a delight in the hardy life of the open... Apart from this, yet mingled with it, is the strong attraction of the silent places, of the large tropic moons, and the splendor of the new stars; where the wanderer sees the awful glory of sunrise and sunset in the wide waste spaces of the earth, unworn of man, and changed only by the slow change of the ages through time everlasting.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) - "In Africa," Scribner's Magazine, Khartoum, March 15, 1910

The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

When man obliterates wilderness, he repudiates the life force, which put him on this planed in a bad way, and in a truly terrifying sense, he is on his own.
J.H. Rush quoted by David R. Brower in an interview "Online with David Kupfer" August 5, 2000

Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, --
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) - "To Jane, The Invitation," c.1820

The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.
Ellen Burns Sherman - On the Manuscripts of God, Abingdon Press, NY, 1918, p. 96.

I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.
Gary Snyder - Statement for the Paterson Society" (1961), as quoted in David Kherdian, Six Poets of the San Francisco Renaissance: Portraits and Checklists (1967), p. 52

Wildness is not just the "preservation of the world," it is the world
Gary Snyder - The Practice of the Wild, "The Etiquette of Freedom," Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA, 1990, p 6.

How much wilderness do the wilderness-lovers want? ask those who would mine and dig and cut and dam in such sanctuary spots as these. The answer is easy: Enough so that there will be in the years ahead a little relief, a little quiet, a little relaxation, for any of our increasing millions who need and want it.
Wallace Stegner - This Is Dinosaur, 1955

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.
Wallace Stegner -The Wilderness Letter, written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, 1962 and subsequently in The Sound of Mountain Water (1969)

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 - the Wilderness Letter

Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) - Allegash & East Branch - Part 5

It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) - Journal, 30 August 1856

In Wildness is the preservation of the World.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) - Essay - Walking

On the mountains mistakes are fatal. In politics, mistakes are wounding emotionally, but you recover. Personally, wilderness helps me get back in touch with natural rhythms, helps me reflect and, in the process, restore my creativity.
Mark Udall

It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness untouched so that a tree will rot where it falls, a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity, a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water — and moderns may at least see what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.
Bernard De Voto - Fortune, June 1947

Love is a powerful tool, and maybe, just maybe, before the last little town is corrupted and the last of the unroaded and undeveloped wildness is given over to dreams of profit, maybe it will be love, finally, love for the land for its own sake and for what it holds of beauty and joy and spiritual redemption that will make [wilderness] not a battlefield but a revelation.
T.H. Watkins - Redrock Chronicles: Saving Wild Utah, 2000

Without enough wilderness America will change. Democracy, with its myriad personalities and increasing sophistication, must be fibred and vitalized by regular contact with outdoor growths — animals, trees, sun warmth and free skies — or it will dwindle and pale.
Walt Whitman

The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come. To protect what is wild is to protect what is gentle. Perhaps the wilderness we fear is the pause within our own heartbeats, the silent space that says we live only by grace. Wilderness lives by this same grace.
Terry Tempest Williams (1955 -)

If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go.... This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.
Terry Tempest Williams (1955 -)- Testimony: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness, Compiled by Terry Tempest Williams and Stephen Trimble (1996)

To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.
Terry Tempest Williams (1955 -) testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Forest & Public Lands Management regarding the Utah Public Lands Management Act of 1995. Washington, D.C. July 13, 1995.

Perhaps the Wilderness we fear is the pause between our own heartbeats, the silence that reminds us we live by grace.
Terry Tempest Williams (1955 -) -https://sites.google.com/site/thoreauandwilderness/American-Nature-Writing/terry-tempest-williams

The wilderness that has come to us out of the eternity of the past, we have the boldness to project into the eternity of the future.
Howard Zahniser

I believe that at least in the present phase of our civilization we have a profound, a fundamental need for areas of wilderness - a need that is not only recreational and spiritual but also educational and scientific, and withal essential to a true understanding of ourselves, our culture, our own natures, and our place in all nature.

This need is for areas of the earth within which we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment - areas of wild nature in which we sense ourselves to be, what in fact I believe we are, dependent members of an interdependent community of living creatures that together derive their existence from the Sun.

By very definition this wilderness is a need. The idea of wilderness as an area without man's influence is man's own concept. Its values are human values. Its preservation is a purpose that arises out of man's own sense of his fundamental needs.
Howard Zahniser - The Need for Wilderness Areas

A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized 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.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 - Penned by Howard Zahniser

Quotes about Nature