Wilderness...Value of the Land

Wilderness is as unique as the passions that drive the communities to protect these landscapes. The wilderness experience is managed by those who find that their passion is to protect unique features of these landscapes for generation to come. Traveling throughout the intermountain region I have met these passionate communities and listened to the diverse challenges that each wilderness face. From southern Utah in the Dark Canyon Wilderness to the High Uintas Wilderness in the northeast corner of Utah the landscape drastically shifts. This shift results in meeting new communities, facing new challenges and experiencing the incredible diversity of natural resources.

With this diversity comes the unique challenges of understanding the interdisciplinary qualities that each wilderness contains within its boundaries. These interdisciplinary qualities are what makes wilderness so special. In my time spent learning and listening to specialist in each forest I gained an understanding of how complex, passionate and exciting managing a wilderness is to ultimately preserve its unique features.

Dark Canyon’s immense canyon system with its striated rocks hides archaeological features that few venture to see. This rugged landscape provides current ranching history to ancient dwellings that have been preserved in this aired climate. This history is an important quality to the surrounding communities to preserve and protect for future generations. The High Uintas Wilderness offers a contrast to Dark Canyon with its views of large peaks, lakes, and meadows that overall are unique to the state of Utah. This dramatic landscape offers an iconic alpine terrain that is prized for its important ecological and ecosystem values to the surrounding community. Water is a key features of the landscape that has shaped the communities surrounding this ecoregion and continues to draw visitors from around the nation to experience its beauty and catch the fish that these waterways support. Each wilderness must protect its distinct qualities and work to find the balance of preserving and protecting these lands and allowing for the natural processes to take their role in the landscape. From little water in Dark Canyon to high elevation in the Alpine terrain of the High Uintas these aspects of nature show challenges, which vary within each unique place.

Everyone reflects on wilderness in different ways yet see the value in these lands for the opportunities to experience the unique and interdisciplinary qualities the wilderness have to offer. Across the intermountain west, passion is what fuels the conversation over wilderness and this passion offers the communities and the managers to reflect on the unique qualities that they can experience and preserve in their backyards.

Kat LyonsRegion 4 Wilderness Researcher for the High UintasBridgerGros Ventre,TetonJedediah SmithWinegar HoleBox-Death HollowCottonwood ForestPine Valley MountainDark CanyonJim McClure-Jerry PeakSawtoothHemingway-BouldersWhite CloudsDeseret PeakLone PeakMount Naomi, Mount NeboMount OlympusMount TimpanogosTwin Peaks, and Wellsville Mountain Wilderness Areas. 

Kat is a 2016 Smith College graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science & Policy and a minor in Government. Experiencing the outdoors from a young age fostered her passion to protect public lands. Kat’s studies focus on the relationship between field work and policy on the local, regional and national level and how each of these perspectives contribute to the successful sustainability of our precious natural resources. Kat has a variety of experiences working for the Forest Service on the Salmon Challis National Forest doing field work focusing on wildlife and fisheries biology, at the regional level volunteering for the Region 5 office of the Fish and Wildlife Service focusing on urban initiatives to encourage the development of accessibility to natural areas, and at the National level for the White House Council of Environmental Quality as a policy intern for national land and water issues. Enthusiastic and passionate about field work and being able to experience the outdoors, she strives to understand all perspectives to create better management practices so the next generation can enjoy these places as much as she does. In her spare time she enjoys backpacking, kayaking, playing rugby, music and exploring new places with friends and family.

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The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is a non-profit, charitable organization under the 501 (c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code.