Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
with Cristina Eisenberg, College of Forestry at Oregon State University
Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which today protects nearly 110 million acres in the United States. Conservation biologist Cristina Eisenberg will discuss why protected, intact wilderness matters even more today than it did in 1964 when the Wilderness Act was signed.
Eisenberg’s intimate acquaintance with wilderness stems from 20 years of living with her family in a cabin adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. At 1 million acres, it comprises the second-largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states. As a working scientist, Eisenberg has conducted research on wolves, elk, aspen and fire. In Rocky Mountain ecosystems, she has shown that relatively intact, large tracts of land are essential to create ecologically resilient landscapes. Such landscapes typically consist of extensive protected wilderness.
At the Corvallis Science Pub, she will share lessons that she has learned over the years — as a scientist and as a resident of a wild landscape — about the crucial importance of wilderness. To illustrate these concepts, she will read and show images from her recently published book, The Carnivore Way, in which she profiles the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, a 28-million-acre landscape that is 90% federally protected wilderness and is the most important wildlife corridor in North America. She will conclude by reflecting on the profound relevance of the Wilderness Act and its legacy as we move into the brave new world of climate change.
Currently at work on a climate-change book for Island Press, Eisenberg has found that in today’s rapidly warming world, wilderness is essential for human well-being. It provides ecosystem services (clean water, clean air, healthy soil, carbon stores) to society, but just as important are the enormous emotional and spiritual benefits that such landscapes impart.
Eisenberg received a Ph.D. in Forestry and Wildlife from the Oregon State University College of Forestry and a master’s in Environmental Writing from Prescott College. She is the nonfiction editor of Whitefish Review. Her books for Island Press include The Carnivore Way and The Wolf’s Tooth. She has written a variety of journal articles and book chapters and teaches courses in ecological restoration, forestry and public Policy at Oregon State. A Smithsonian Research Associate and an Earthwatch scientist, she is a Boone and Crockett Club professional member.
Held on the second Monday of the month, 6 to 8 p.m. in the Old World Deli, 341 2nd St. in Corvallis, Science Pub is sponsored by OMSI, the Downtown Corvallis Association and Terra magazine at Oregon State University.
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