The Wilderness Support Center was founded in November 1998 with the simple goal of helping people to protect wild places. The idea for the Center was formed in response to a renewed excitement about wilderness and the wilderness movement that has been building for the last few years. This "wilderness revival" has been fueled, in part, by the high profile wilderness campaigns in Utah and Alaska, and by the desire of people across the United States to take the offensive and work for Wilderness protection for large tracts of public land.
Sensing the groundswell, leaders within the wilderness movement have identified now as the time to seize the initiative and promote the revival of wilderness protection efforts.
Creating offensive campaigns to protect these wild places takes time, resources, and energy. To this end, conservationists have gathered several times in the last year to discuss the future of the wilderness movement. The need for additional organizing, and strategic and communications support was identified repeatedly. To meet this need a Wilderness Support Center was suggested, an idea that is receiving enthusiastic support.
The Wilderness Support Center plans to provide training, strategic assistance and on-the-ground help to grassroots wilderness groups that are working to protect areas of public land as Wilderness.
As its first order of business the Wilderness Support Centers staff conducted a thorough "needs assessment" of the wilderness movement.
The purpose of the "needs assessment" was to meet with a representative sample of grassroots wilderness groups to find out what their long-term goals for wilderness protection in their state or region are. Groups were also asked to identify gaps or areas that they lack the time or resources to work on themselves. A specific focus was to identify those areas of need that cut across state lines and those that seemed most important in advancing and rejuvenating the Wilderness Movement.
Key areas of need identified include:
· Hands-On Assistance
(*A complete Needs Assessment Report is available from the Center, see back for contact information,)
Clearly, the Wilderness Support Center cannot meet all the needs identified by wilderness advocates throughout the country. Therefore, the Center developed 1999 work priorities aimed at addressing a few critical areas of identified need.
In deciding which geographic areas to focus its work, the Center will look at the immediacy of threat in certain areas, the opportunities that exist for advancing individual wilderness campaigns, as well as how far along those campaigns are in organizing, fundraising, etc.
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"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
|"Let us be done with a wilderness
preservation program made up of a sequence of overlapping emergencies, threats, and
defense campaigns! Lets make a concerted effort for a positive program that will
establish an enduring system of areas where we can be at peace and not forever feel that
the wilderness is a battleground."
|"There is just one hope...that hope is
the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom and preservation of