Crown Jewel Wilderness

Posted March 16, 2018 at 6:36 pm by

Crown Jew­el Wilder­ness: Cre­at­ing North Cas­cades Nation­al Park by Lau­ren Danner

Grif­fin Bay Book­store and the San Juan Island Library invite all the park’s afi­ciona­dos to attend a book talk and slide show with author Lau­ren Dan­ner at the Library on Wednes­day, March 21, 7:00 pm. If you spend time in the park or sim­ply dri­ve over the North Cas­cades High­way, you’ll sure­ly enjoy hear­ing Lau­ren talk about the park’s cre­ation and what makes it unique.

The North Cas­cades Nation­al Park cel­e­brates its 50th anniver­sary in 2018, and a new book by Lau­ren Dan­ner, Crown Jew­el Wilder­ness: Cre­at­ing North Cas­cades Nation­al Park, offers the first com­pre­hen­sive account of its creation—a nar­ra­tive that involves more than a decade of grass­roots activism and polit­i­cal maneuvering.

Wide­ly con­sid­ered the first wilder­ness nation­al park in the Unit­ed States, its most scenic and undis­turbed areas were pre­served with­out roads or oth­er accom­mo­da­tions, adding to its crown jew­el image. The sto­ry includes the unprece­dent­ed turn of events that left the Nation­al Park Ser­vice and Unit­ed States For­est Ser­vice, agen­cies that often had adver­sar­i­al view­points and objec­tives, work­ing side by side.

Remote, rugged, and spec­tac­u­lar­ly majes­tic, with stun­ning alpine mead­ows and jagged peaks that soar beyond ten thou­sand feet, the North Cas­cades range ben­e­fit­ed from geo­graph­ic iso­la­tion that shield­ed its moun­tains from exten­sive resource extrac­tion and devel­op­ment. Efforts to estab­lish a park began as ear­ly as 1892, but gained trac­tion after World War II, and author Lau­ren Dan­ner explores major influ­ences lead­ing to its designation. 

Seat­tle expe­ri­enced an influx of young professionals—many of them inter­est­ed in recre­ation and opposed to increased logging—who began to pres­sure gov­ern­ment offi­cials. The For­est Ser­vice released a con­tro­ver­sial pro­pos­al for a Glac­i­er Peak wilder­ness. The envi­ron­men­tal move­ment became more unit­ed, orga­nized, and sophis­ti­cat­ed. Nation­al­ly and region­al­ly, peo­ple elect­ed exec­u­tive branch­es that were friend­ly to con­ser­va­tion causes.

Actions by Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, Inte­ri­or Sec­re­tary Stew­art Udall, and Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture Orville Free­man, along with Wash­ing­ton State sen­a­tor Hen­ry “Scoop” Jack­son and gov­er­nor Daniel Evans, ush­ered in a new era of polit­i­cal coop­er­a­tion. The politi­cians’ envi­ron­men­tal con­cerns pro­duced the 1964 Wilder­ness Act, a vari­ety of task forces, pro­pos­als, debates, and hear­ings, and ulti­mate­ly, a bill that would per­ma­nent­ly pro­tect America’s Alps, the North Cascades.

Final­ly, the book dis­cuss­es chal­lenges that fol­lowed the bill’s pas­sage, such as the threat of cop­per min­ing or high­er dams on the Skag­it, and con­cludes with an exam­i­na­tion of con­tem­po­rary issues, like the rein­tro­duc­tion of griz­zly bears and wolves.

About the Author
Lau­ren Dan­ner, PhD, is a writer and his­to­ri­an based in Olympia, Wash­ing­ton. She focus­es on pub­lic lands pol­i­cy, Pacif­ic North­west and envi­ron­men­tal his­to­ry, and out­door recre­ation. A for­mer col­lege pro­fes­sor, muse­um direc­tor, and Wash­ing­ton State field coor­di­na­tor for the Lewis and Clark bicen­ten­ni­al, she now writes at laurendanner.com.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0