A host of diverse voices debate the need and purpose of wilderness in a visually stunning new documentary by John Howe.
For 40 years, the American West has been the nation’s battleground for the preservation of wild lands. But have 21st century growth and energy demands relegated wilderness to the pages of history? Wilderness: The Great Debate, airing Thursday, September 22 at 7:30 p.m. on WXXI World (cable 524/DT21.2), includes interviews with President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar; Stewart Udall, secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and a former Arizona congressman who continued Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of conservation in the West; and others.
The program is balanced and inclusive, with Redford’s eloquence for environmental preservation ably countered by elected officials and industry figures calling for a different mindset. The core of the debate is reflected in the film’s open. “Is the West going to be reduced to just photos and films to show young people how it used to be, or are there going to be places where they can go and see the way it used to be, like wilderness and like national parks?” Redford asks. On the other hand, Mark Habbeshaw- Kane County Commissioner, says, “This is a war for rural people, for state and local sovereignty, to protect what little sovereignty we have left as a rural people; to protect our traditions, our culture our ability to manage our lives with a diversified economy.”