As conservationists continue the prolonged struggle to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil development and other encroachments, the epic story of the campaign to establish the original Arctic National Wildlife Range, documented in Last Great Wilderness, now provides new inspiration and deeper understanding of why the Refuge should remain protected. This is an invaluable resource for all who will face the battles that lie ahead because in revealing the idealism and values upon which the Arctic Refuge was founded, it provides the most persuasive arguments for keeping it wild. While Last Great Wilderness is a thoroughly researched and authoritative history of the conflict, it is at the same time an absorbing, hard-to-put-down story. Color and black and white historical photos lend interest.
Last Great Wilderness shows how conservation pioneers George Collins, Lowell Sumner, Olaus and Mardy Murie, Starker Leopold, Justice William O. Douglas, and Sigrud Olson united with Ginny Wood, Celia Hunter and other Alaskans to forge a highly effective strategy of grass roots action on a national scale. Their successful struggle set a number of milestones in conservation history: establishment of the nation's first vast ecosystem-scale conservation unit and the first administered as an adventuring ground--a place for the kind of challenging, self-reliant, and exploratory journeys that Bob Marshall had extolled. The Arctic Range exemplified the wild values and recreational opportunities its advocates soon succeeded in enshrining in the wilderness Act of 1964. The victory laid the groundwork for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
While Last Great Wilderness is about what happened in the past, like any history, it was written to serve the future. For those who believe the vision, values, and ideals that led to the Arctic Refuge's establishment should guide its future stewardship, Last Great Wilderness will be an invaluable guide. And for those interested in the evolution of the wilderness movement, and especially its influence upon Alaskan conservation efforts, this book is a must-read.
A PhD in wilderness studies, Roger Kaye has been the Arctic Refuge's wilderness specialist and pilot since 1985.