Welcome to Glacier Bay National Park. My Name is Marylou Blakeslee and on behalf of the National Park Service, I’d like to welcome you to the wilderness of Glacier Bay.
The National Parks have been called America’s best idea. This reflects our need for places to turn to for replenishing ourselves, to step away from the demands of our culture, to be present to the wind and sounds of nature.
Writers, poets, artists, philosophers, religious leaders and scientists have acknowledged the need for people to have wild places to turn to. During times of crisis we head to wild places for comforting and renewal. In the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, the national parks became increasingly important to the American public as places of healing and reflection. Ecology, the study of earth’s systems has had a dramatic effect on our perception of wildness. Understanding of the importance of wild places grew in leaps and bounds with our scientific literacy. Concepts like “the web of life, the interconnectivity of the earth’s systems is expanding our ways of relating to wilderness. We still, as a culture, and possibly as a species seek the sublime in nature yet we also have growing respect for our dependency upon it. World population has reached numbers well beyond even the largest prediction. We are seeing the need for resources skyrocket, and our wild places have become islands of wilderness in seas of development. While these wild places are still the source of inspiration and healing, they are also the resource, the continuing renewal of the earth’s systems upon which we depend. Mountain streams, while beautiful and soothing are also the source of replenishment for the world that feeds us. Wild places are the filters for the air that we need to breathe. Wild places are the sources of the species that replenish stocks closer to our homes that we depend upon for food. They are the stop overs, the resting and feeding places for migrations of animals that transport vital nutrients from one area of the country to another, in fact, from one area of the world to another. Our wilderness areas are the links of the natural world that keep it healthy. Without them our human habitat is destroyed. We have come to learn in a unequivocal way, that which the first species of humans knew; we are part of this earth and we depend upon it.
We depend upon wilderness for our physical wellbeing and our mental and spiritual wellbeing. It is our home. Welcome home to the wilderness. Welcome to Glacier Bay.