To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the Stegner Center convened an all-day conference on September 26 to address “The Wilderness Act at 50 and the Mountain West.” The conference examined the Wilderness Act from its initial beginnings to the modern day. Topics considered included the enactment of the Wilderness Act, the modern history of wilderness designation in the West, the economic valuation of wilderness, new challenges in wilderness designation, and specific ecological concerns including wildlife restoration, water rights, and climate change. There was also a panel discussion on Protecting Wilderness in Utah with representatives from State Government, County Government, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
Douglas Brinkley delivered the keynote address on “U.S. Presidents and the Wilderness Act” during the noon hour to a standing-room only audience. Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University, CBS News Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him “America’s new past master.” His books include The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America and The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960. Seven of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Cronkite won the Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism and was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year 2012. The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
Conference speakers included:
- Barbara Cosens, University of Idaho School of Law
- Robin Kundis Craig, University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law
- David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
- Sean Kammer, University of South Dakota School of Law
- Bob Keiter, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
- Sanne Knudsen, University of Washington School of Law
- John Leshy, University of California Hastings College of Law
- Martin Nie, University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation
- Ray Peterson, Public Lands Director, Emery County
- Cody Stewart, Governor Gary Herbert
- Sandi Zellmer, University of Nebraska School of Law
The Stegner Center is grateful to its sponsors for their financial support for this conference. Sponsors include the Cultural Vision Fund, the Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental Law (ENREL) Section of the Utah State Bar, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.