U.S. Forest Service chief favors wilderness conservation

The Forest Service chief weighs in on wilderness at the “Room to Roam” Wilderness Issues Lecture Series in Missoula . . .

The U.S. Forest Service was founded on the idea of conserving the nation’s wild country, and it will continue that mission even as the opportunities to do so shrink, according to agency Chief Tom Tidwell.

“Once you use wilderness for something else, for our generation or future generations it’s gone,” Tidwell said during a lecture at the University of Montana on Tuesday. “It can shrink, but not grow.”

But Tidwell said we need blank spaces on the map to, as conservationist Wallace Stegner put it, preserve the challenge against which we as a people were formed. Those places defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964 serve as both places of human refreshment and ecological reserve in a landscape that’s getting ever more crowded.

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