DEBATE OF '98- wilderness?

Ron Wenrich woodtick at
Tue Apr 21 18:29:50 EST 1998

Joseph Zorzin wrote:

> How much wilderness do we need? And why?

It seems that every time you say wilderness, people start talking
about pristine forests and old growth.  That is not what a wilderness
area is.  By definition, a wilderness is an uninhabited area.  I
believe I saw a designation that a wilderness area is 5 miles from
roads and navigatable waterways.  Anyone want to correct that?

In PA, we have the St. Anthony's Wilderness, which is about 20 miles
from the state capitol.  It was created about 50 years ago when the
rail service was pulled from that valley.  There were several
settlements, which serviced the rail system, and a resort which had
closed.  Since then, the Game Commission has taken it over and allows
cars to be driven on the old rail bed during certain times, typically
during the leaf change.  There are no pristine forests or virgin
forests in this wilderness.  The area had been cut prior to WWII, and
there are still occasional timber sales and improvement cuts.  Game
management is the top priority.

Pristine forests are ususally considered to be areas which are
"untouched" by human hands.  We have several areas in PA which more
than qualify for that designation, but they are not wilderness areas.
I've seen pristine areas which were adjacent to areas where timber
harvesting was being carried out.  Pristine areas can be quite compact
as opposed to wilderness areas.  Pristine forests lend to increased
bio-diversity, and is therefore important.

So, is the question whether we have enough wilderness or enough
pristine areas?


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