Forest activists to speak on wildlands around Williams

Williams lies at the southern edge of the Northern Forest, which provides critical habitat for a spectrum of species, yet few Williams students are aware of the issues emerging in the northern forest and the campaigns that environmentalists are heading in attempts to preserve the forests.

With much privately owned timberland being offered for sale in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the present will become a critical period in determining the future fate of the Northern Forests. Four of the principle New England forest activists will come to Williams on April 15th to discuss their visions for the Northern Forest and other North American Wildlands.

Several of the speakers are proponents of the Wildlands Project, a call to return 50% of the land area of North America to wildlands in order to provide wildlife habitat and enable man to balance his influence with the needs of non-human life. The principle of biocentric equality, the right of all creatures to a dignified and healthy existence, is central to the Wildlands project.

The Wildlands Project embraces earth poet Gary Snyder’s imagery of Turtle Island. Turtle Island is a term granted to North America according to the creation myths of native peoples. Gary Snyder offers the hope that we may become both physical and spiritual inhabitants of this continent, most properly referred to as Turtle Island, in order to realize an existence which respects all fellow creatures as well as the land itself.

As the Wildlands Project vision statement declares, “Our vision is simple: we live for the day when Grizzlies [have unbroken corridors]; when Gray Wolf populations are continuous…; when vast unbroken forests and flowing plains again thrive…; when humans dwell with respect, harmony, and affection for the land.”

The implications of this vision of North America for the population and resource consumption of humans have summoned intense debate.

Addressing these issues at the forum will be Tom Butler, the editor of Wild Earth periodical, as well as Andrew Whittaker, the editor of the Northern Forest Forum.

Michael Kellett, the Director of RESTORE the North Woods, will discuss his organization’s visions of establishing a 3.2 million acre Maine Woods National Park and Preserve and restoring populations of the Eastern Timber Wolf.

Peter Sterling of Forest Watch will discuss his organization’s perception of the role of National Forests. The forum, which is sponsored by the Purple Druids, the Center for Environmental Studies, and the Lecture Committee, will take place on Thursday, April 15 at 7PM in Griffin 6.

Informal dinner discussions with the participants will precede the forum at 5:30PM in Dodd. Both support for the participants’ visions and criticisms to engage the participants in debate are welcomed.

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