Wilderness and Human Rights

TWAICB Director Sandy Sohcot writes:

My wonderful experience at the Oregon Country Fair this past July was part of an adventurous road trip that took me from Eugene, Oregon up to the Olympic Rain Forest in Washington state, down the Oregon coast and into the Northern California redwoods. Taking in the beauty of each natural wonder brought me inspiration and a sense of well-being.

Above are some photographs I took of the postings in redwood groves dedicated to Lady Bird Johnson and protected as the Rockefeller forest. (Here is a link to the Lady Bird Johnson grove website page with more info, plus a gorgeous photo of the trees.  Here’s a link to the Rockefeller Forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.)

Seeing the messages on the plaques about  how important these sacred places are reminded me of Wallace Stegner’s Wilderness Letter, which led to the enactment of the Wilderness Act. I remember a particular passage from the Wilderness Letter that expresses how vital it is to preserve wilderness just because knowing of its existence can nurture our creative spirit and sense of hope.

“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

It seems to me that preserving our majestic environments for everyone’s access and enjoyment resonates strongly with our human rights to rest and leisure (UDHR Article 24) and to a standard of living adequate to our health and well-being (UDHR Article 25).  I have a renewed sense of how vital it is for us to treasure and strengthen public access to fresh air, the beauty of natural wonders, and the experience of the wilderness, whether in local public parks or in our national forests. And also, how important it is to speak up for this to our friends and family, as well as to our local, state and national leaders.

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