Aug 2, 2016
KGNU's Claudia Cragg speaks here with Jordan Fisher Smith (@) a park ranger for decades who speaks to KGNU in good time for the centenary of National Parks (Aug. 25th).
Smith is a nature writer who uses the story of the grizzly death of one Harry Walker to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, economic, ecological and human resource attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it.
Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled 20th century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management.
Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem--that the idea of what is "wild" dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it.