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Monday, January 26, 2015

50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act

As I mentioned previously, 2014-2015 is the 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act. There were many celebrations of this, and I took part in two of them which have some interesting links I have provided here for you to enjoy. 



The Crary Gallery in Philadelphia is in Warren County, near to Tionesta township and the Allegheny River. Tionesta was the home of Howard Zahniser who wrote the original Wilderness Act, so the Crary Gallery honored him by having a large exhibit of photographers whose work would show the breadth of wilderness in North America. Among them, I am the only photographer whose work has ever actually helped to create wilderness, so the curator honored the special nature of those images and included brief text / stories with the display. 

If you would like to see the actual gallery and installation, here is a short YouTube video:
Wilderness at 50 - invited photographers
Wilderness at 50 - invited photographers

There was also a very nice print catalog produced for the exhibit: 


The essays are short yet very informative and worth a read. You will learn something about the amazing American wilderness system and enjoy great pictures as well!

And lastly, here are the images I was proud to display as wilderness to which I feel a special connection:

Tracy Arm, TRACY ARM-FORDS TERROR WILDERNESS, Tongass National Forest, AK
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
During the 1980's, considerable momentum developed within the environmental community to protect the largest of all national forests, the Tongass rainforest in southeast Alaska. A unique old-growth, temperate rainforest covering over 1,000 islands and a coastal fjordland, the Tongass was being clearcut, an industrial logging technique that was disrupting substantial habitat. Beginning in 1985, Ketchum spent 2-years in Southeast, photographing and doing research that was then published as the Aperture book, The Tongass: Alaska's Vanishing Rain Forest.  Ketchum had the book delivered to all of Congress, exhibiting prints at the National Museum of Natural History and in the Senate Rotunda. In 1990, President George Bush, Sr. signed the Tongass Timber Reform Bill into law. Not only was it the most comprehensive timber reform bill in American history, it created 11 new wilderness areas and protected over one million acres of pristine forest habitat. In acknowledgment of the contributions of his work, Ketchum was invited to the White House to meet President Bush and also given the United Nations Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award by the King of Sweden. 

Twin Lakes, LAKE CLARK NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, Southwest AK
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
In 1998, Ketchum was introduced to southwest Alaska and the Bristol Bay fishery by fellow board members of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. Intending to make the public more aware of this remarkable part of the state and the valuable fishing resources, Ketchum published, Southwest Alaska: The Last Great Salmon Fishery in 2001. Fish were not the only resource however for the area hosts Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, and the largest state park, Wood-Tikchik. In 2004 Ketchum published, Wood-Tikchik: Alaska's Largest State Park. In 2005 a huge Canadian mining consortium proposed the largest open-pit copper and cyanide gold-leach mine in the world, to be located adjacent Lake Clark National Park in the headwaters of the fishery. In response, Ketchum organized and circulated an exhibit entitled, "Southwest Alaska: A World of Parks and Wildlife Refuges at the Crossroads" and he began building an extensive social media platform.
Dawn, Upper Togiak, TOGIAK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 
Southwest AK
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
Southwest Alaska is home to Alaska's largest state park, two national parks, and two national wildlife refuges, one of which is 4.5 million acre Togiak National Wildlife Refuge - a completely roadless wilderness. All of these wild lands are pristine habitat that would have their air and water quality severely compromised if the proposed Pebble mine were to be built. Besides the books and exhibits, Ketchum also used his imagery to build a social media following and helped to create a coalition of over 100 partners opposing the mine. Currently the spokesperson for that group is Robert Redford, and the media campaign has been so successful, as of this year all the principal investors have withdrawn. Further, the EPA is considering canceling the mining permit. Former Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, gave Ketchum the Partnerships In Conservation Award for the work he did to help build the coalition.

Mt. Fairweather and the Alsek Glacier, 1 a.m., GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE, AK
photograph(s) © copyright, ROBERT GLENN KETCHUM, 2015 @RbtGlennKetchum @LittleBearProd #LittleBearProd 
In the mid-1980's a Canadian mining consortium proposed developing a gold mine on a tributary of the Tatshenshini, a large river that comes out of Canada and winds it's way between Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Ketchum was asked by The Nature Conservancy to float the river and his photographs and story were published in LIFE magazine, breaking this news in the American press. Concerns the mining would impact the parks, the river's fishery and the perhaps even the Gulf of Alaska caught the attention of politicians, in particular, Al Gore who voiced opposition to the mine in the Senate, and spent time persuading his friend, the Canadian Prime Minister, to reconsider the mining permit. Ketchum and a coalition of photographers and writers generated many stories in the press and worked together to produce a book, Tatshenshini: River Wild. Canada withdrew the mining permit, and requested World Biosphere status for the river corridor to protect its wilderness. In so doing, three vast wilderness areas, Wrangell-St.Elias - Tatshenshini - Glacier Bay, were linked creating the largest legally designated contiguous wilderness expanse on the planet.