Is the Wilderness Act Still Protecting Nature?

The Landmark 1964 Law Is Now Preventing Effective Land Management and Critical Climate Research

At the end of 2023, four environmental groups sued the National Park Service and invoked the Wilderness Act to stop the replanting of trees following a catastrophic wildfire in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Around the same time, the National Park Service announced that it aimed to invoke the Wilderness Act to limit the use of fixed anchors on Yosemite’s iconic big wall climbs.

How did a law created 60 years ago to protect nature in undeveloped areas come to do something else entirely—and, in the process, become counterproductive to its own …

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The American West’s Great Checkerboard

As Long as the U.S. System Privileges Private Property, Thousands of Acres of Public Lands Will Remain Off Limits

The West has a checkerboard problem.

According to the company behind the popular hunting app OnX, 530,000 acres of public lands in California alone are inaccessible to the general public. That’s …

What Do Mining Claims and National Parks Have in Common? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What Do Mining Claims and National Parks Have in Common?

America Enacted Two Environmental Laws 10 Weeks Apart in 1872. One Encouraged Drilling Into Public Lands—The Other Tried to Conserve Them

If you know where to go in Death Valley National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias Park and Preserve, Glacier Peak Wilderness, or Bears Ears National Monument, you might come across the remnants …

Yosemite Is Not for Claustrophobes

As It Accommodates Millions of Visitors a Year, California’s Signature National Park Feels Less Like an Escape

The Yosemite National Park shuttle bus to Mariposa Grove wasn’t running. And the road up to the grove is no longer open to private cars. Would my three sons, ages …

How Our View of National Parks Shapes American Identity

What We Seek and Find in Our Sacred Environments Reflects Our Country’s Character

Few natural regions have been photographed as often, or in such varied ways, as the American West. Many of these alluring, emotionally resonant landscapes lie within the boundaries of national …

Why Americans Invented the RV

In 1915, New Creature Comforts Created by Technology Merged with the Back to Nature Movement

Zócalo’s editors are diving into our archives and throwing it back to some of our favorite pieces. This week: Before pandemic “van life,” there …