[What is Wilderness to You?] Anela Ramos: When I think of wilderness, I imagine places undisturbed where you can just enjoy the silence and really see the plants and animals at their best. John Eleby: Wilderness for me is that place to escape to. I think it’s so necessary for us as people to go back to our roots of what we were and it’s just out being in the wild. Doug Hee: Wilderness is being in a place where you’re there on its own terms. It’s not expecting anything. It’s not expecting the environment to look after you, to take care of my needs. Wilderness is there, really for me, to take care of its needs. Kevin Haney: I grew up here in Marin and this is kind of my backyard essentially. Definitely spent a lot of time recreating out here in the wilderness. Hiking and going to the beach was definitely a large part of my childhood visiting our Seashore here.
[How does your job relate to to Wilderness?] AR: As an interpretive ranger, I am here to educate visitors about wilderness. We tell visitors that they’re entering wilderness for one. JE: We enforce the laws that are designed to protect the wilderness. So you got the simple things from pets in closed areas, not being able to bring your dog into the wilderness area all the way up to damage to natural resources, unattended fires, and things like that.
[How can visitors connect to and help protect Wilderness?] DH: It becomes a moral imperative that we take steps to protect it, which means that we’ll have to educate folks about how to do that themselves. It’s a collaborative effort, it’s a collective effort that we need to make in order to ensure that wilderness is protected into the future. JE: It’s really important as the visitation for Point Reyes National Seashore keeps rising that visitors familiarize themselves with the rules and reg’s (regulations) of the park and specifically those that pertain to wilderness. So familiarizing yourself with the “pack in-pack out” policy as well as how to treat fires. And there’s really good reason we have our fire rules here. KH: Protecting the wilderness is really easy to do and part of what many of us already do already. It’s following “Leave No Trace” principles when you’re in the backcountry and even if you’re in the frontcountry you can do that. As we put less pressure on the areas that we can use, that puts less pressure on the areas that we want to protect. JE: So for each warning that we give, each citation that we write, or each contact that we make, we’re just trying to educate the public towards that goal. AR: It’s not always something that gets across so, they’re [visitors] just like “oh I’m just going for a hike!” but hopefully while they’re out there exploring Point Reyes and being on the trails and really enjoying themselves out there, we hope that it instills a connection to them that they’ll want to preserve this place.
[What is your favorite Wilderness area at Point Reyes?] JE: That’s kind of a tough one to answer because there’s so many good ones, but I guess if I had to pick, I guess the top favorite, Coast Trail, would have to be my answer. AR: It’s hard to choose! DH: You know, I’d have to say, I think Tomales Point is great, it’s wonderful. You really do get a sense that you’re out in the middle of nowhere. KH: The Laguna Trail would probably be my favorite part of the wilderness. AR: Every part of wilderness is special and unique in its own way and you want to experience all of it and you can’t just choose one. And it’d be difficult to say this wilderness is better than the other. They’re all equally worth visiting.
[What is unique about the Wilderness at Point Reyes?] KH: Here at Point Reyes, the wilderness is really diverse. You know we have our bishop pine forest, we have our rugged coastlines, our coastal dunes, there’s just so much here that it’s hard to pick one really. DH: We’ve got the land mass of wilderness but we also have the marine area that makes it an incredibly wild feeling. AR: That’s the beauty of it is that, things that are wild can be far away, you might have to drive eight hours to go and see the Sierra, but there are places that are wild that are just in your backyard. And hopefully wilderness is going to be an idea that everyone has access to. That wild areas will be in urban places and you don’t get have to get very far, or you don’t have to go very far, to just be one with nature.
[Why is Wilderness important?] JE: Wilderness is important because it reminds us of where we came from. I forget who said it, but wilderness, just you don’t have to even go to it, but knowing that it’s there, knowing that it’s out there, is of intrinsic value to the human soul. So just, for me being able to go to it, being able to go to a place, walk a trail or even walk off trail, you see no sign of human habitation. It’s a place where it feels WILD. It feels like, I might get eaten out here, and I don’t know how that works out in the human psyche, but that’s kind of a good feeling, to know that those places still exist. KH: At the end of my programs, I ask people what they think they could do to become wilderness defenders. Edward Abbey said that wilderness, the idea of wilderness doesn’t need any defense, it just needs more defenders. So that’s kind of my call to action at the end of the program. DH: There are places that have been set aside in this country, where we can be assured that things are left as they would be without us and just even knowing that is valuable.
Four park rangers share their thoughts about Wilderness.