"Last Great Wilderness is the story of the beliefs and values, the ideas and idealism, and the hopes and concerns for the future that inspired the leaders of the campaign and many of their followers. (LGW, review copy, p. xv) Because the national campaign for establishment covered the period from 1950-1960, Arctic NWR serves also as tracer for the evolution of the Wilderness concept and the 1964 legislation establishing America's National Wilderness Preservation System. The Arctic NWR campaign, in its broadest context, involved many famous names in environmental conservation annals--Olaus and Margaret "Mardie" Murie, George Collins, Lowell Sumner, A. Starker Leopold, F. Fraser Darling, Howard Zahnizer, and others. The foundational vision came from Collins and Sumner, but the Muries helped steer the campaign at critical periods and obtained broad support for the proposal in Alaska, a feat worthy of Hercules.
Make no mistake; Last Great Wilderness will help readers understand the significance of this largest and most threatened refuge in our U.S. Refuge System. The book presents the hopes and dreams of the visionaries who worked so hard and so well for its creation. It presents the compromises that had to be made, and it gives context to the International, scientific, wilderness, fish and wildlife, cultural, and landscape-level ecological values for which the refuge stands, thereby creating a preeminent symbol of freedom, "...freedom from the crowding and pollution of our cities, freedom to continue, unhindered and forever if we are willing, the particular story of Planet Earth unfolding here--freedom for us as well who need to come to the few out-of-the-way places still remaining where we can breathe freely, be inspired, and understand a little of the majestic story of evolution... ."