Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Foreword

Gloria Whelan

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pp. 7-10

Tom Bailey has been protecting the land since he was seventeen years old. That was the year he appeared as a federal witness before the U.S. Senate Interior Committee in support of protecting Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park as federal wilderness.
Thoreau wrote, “A man has not seen a thing who has not felt it.” Tom’s feel for the outdoors is bred in the bones. His father was a wildlife biologist. His childhood was spent in the outdoors, camping, hunting, and fishing. He...

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Prelude

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pp. xi-xvi

One of my most fundamental beliefs is that Walt Whitman was stating a truth when he wrote, “Now I see the secret of making the best persons: it is to grow in the open air, and eat and sleep with the earth.” I believe that the experience of living and growing and eating and sleeping outdoors makes us better people. I don’t advocate that we should do this all the time—I wouldn’t want to always live at a campsite, nor would I suggest that humanity should “go back” to what most regard as a primitive lifestyle. But I would suggest that...

Part 1: Beginnings

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pp. 1-2

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Inspired by Eagles

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pp. 3-6

When people ask how I came to work in the field of conservation, I have been known to respond, with a half-smile, that it is because I saw a bald eagle when I was about five years old.
I have vivid memories of that first eagle sighting, as I do of forcing my parents to stop the car so that I could take pictures of an eagle’s nest we encountered on a family vacation. I’ve never been able to take my eyes off an eagle when one was in sight, and I’ve been privileged to see them many, many times....

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A Yooper Kid Goes to Washington

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pp. 6-8

The early 1970s were a time of environmental activism and awareness. Earth Day and the dawning of what would come to be known as the “environmental movement” brought issues like air and water pollution and other human impacts on the earth to the fore.
As the son of a wildlife biologist, I suppose I was ahead of the curve when it came to environmental awareness. I had grown up fishing, hunting, camping, and learning about the outdoors in the venerable conservation tradition of Theodore...

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An Environmentalist Looks at Fifty

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pp. 8-12

Remember the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the modern environmental movement took off? Heady times they were, pitting (some of us thought) the forces of good against the forces of evil. Greedy industrialists, shameless polluters, and cold-hearted rapists of the environment were finally challenged by a long-haired, flannel-shirted, and boot-clad generation who knew beyond the shadow of a doubt what was good for nature and good for humanity. My Vibram soles tromped in unison with others in the fight for the environment....

Part 2: Motives

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pp. 13-14

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Conquering Nature?

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pp. 15-16

As I write and as you read this, small armies are preparing all over the world for assaults on nature. People are girding up for battles to be fought on all sorts of terrain from mountain to desert, in the air and on the water.
I refer not to military action of any sort, but to the analogy used by many people who climb mountains, run rivers, go backpacking, sail, or pursue other activities in the outdoors. For some reason, many people need to define their outdoor experience in terms of conflict....

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Why Protect Land?

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pp. 17-20

Conventional wisdom and common portrayals of conservation in the media hold that the principal reason for saving wild country is that the many species it harbors might one day offer cures for cancer, remedies for arthritis, and other miracle cures. The potent anticancer drug Taxol, for example, comes from the Pacific yew, which environmentalists are striving to protect in the old-growth forests of the American West Coast....

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The Biophilia Hypothesis

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pp. 20-22

One of the things that motivated me to choose a career in conservation was this solid belief that natural land is good for people. These feelings about the importance of nature to people have always been a sort of heartfelt or gut-level knowledge to many people as they are to me. But few of us could quote much scientific research to actually support the belief, even though the feeling remains strong and unshakable. As one writer put it, it’s something you know deep inside, “with a certainty far more secure than intellect can offer.”...

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Science and Spirit

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pp. 22-25

It is all well and good to understand that science is now confirming that natural land is good for people. However, I believe it important to resist the common Western temptation to view science as being somehow superior to spirit when it comes to the importance of natural land....

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Dark Sky Park

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pp. 25-28

What if I told you that, wherever you live, you are at most within a few minutes’ drive of being able to peer into one of the most vast and beautiful wilderness areas people have ever seen? What if I told you that this great wild place has had only a few dozen human visitors in all of recorded history, and that it appears the same before our eyes today as it did to our ancestors hundreds and even thousands of years ago? And what if I also told you that this is the very same ...

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Locking Up Land

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pp. 28-30

Over the thirty-plus years I have been involved in efforts to protect wilderness and natural areas, I have heard voices in opposition accusing wilderness protection advocates of trying to “lock up” natural resources.
It’s a familiar line. “You just want to lock this land away,” they howl, “and keep people from using the minerals and timber and then converting the land to use for houses, roads, and businesses.” This pronouncement is frequently accompanied by sermons about letting resources go to waste and about the tragedy of ruling...

Part 3: Hunting

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pp. 31-32

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The Hunting Issue: Some Background

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pp. 33-37

Ample evidence shows that at the dawn of human culture, people were drawn together by common interests and goals that revolved around basic survival. Survival—procurement of food, water, and shelter for basic subsistence—required everyone’s time, energy, and effort. Groups, it turned out, had better prospects for survival than isolated individuals, and so human communities were born. As human society developed and people became more adept and efficient at meeting their basic needs, they began to have time...

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Nature-Based People’s Perspective on Hunting

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pp. 37-40

One of the most meaningful conversations I have had about hunting was shared with a friend a few years ago. The talk took place in the context of a trip to consult with the owners of a large parcel of land in the Rocky Mountains that included some important winter elk habitat. The land was being severely overgrazed by mule deer, and some people advocated reduction of the mule deer population through hunting. Others, opposed to hunting for a number of reasons, objected....

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But Is There Room for Hunters?

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pp. 40-42

The gray wolf, probably one of the finest examples in North America of a skilled and effective wild hunter, is only beginning to be seen by European settlers and their descendants in our country as something other than a “bad” animal to be pursued, hated, and eliminated. Other predators such as coyotes, hawks, owls, eagles, grizzly bears, foxes, and more have been persecuted like the wolf because they are hunters. Even killer whales were portrayed as wanton assassins of the sea until it was discovered that they are more intelligent than...

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A Glimpse of How It Might Be . . .

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pp. 43-45

The dog was on point. Its gray-haired owner knew that the bird was probably a grouse and that it probably wouldn’t stay put for long. “Move up quick, right behind the dog,” he said to the boy. “Get ready to shoot.”
The boy moved quickly, tense with excitement, all senses on full alert. He nervously felt again for the safety on the 20-gauge shotgun, ready to flick it off but, as his grandfather had taught him, not until the moment came to shoot. His eyes swept beyond the dog ahead of him as he quickly forced his way through...

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A Glimpse of How It Was: The Elk Hunt

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pp. 45-48

For most of history, people have known much more about where their food comes from than we do today. Only a few generations ago, most families had raised the cow, pig, or turkey that graced their tables. They cared for the hen who laid eggs, fed the cow that gave milk, picked the berries, or had hunted wild game since our mammoth-hunter ancestors emerged from the ice age.
But modern Americans are far removed from the realities of what it takes to feed people. Grain is grown, harvested, milled, and processed by unseen hands....

Part 4: Government

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pp. 49-50

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Government, Regulations, and Politics

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pp. 51-53

Environmental politics. Not since the original Earth Day in 1970, when I first became seriously involved in the field of environmental conservation, has there been so much in the news about environmental laws and the controversies that surround them. Decisions are being made by Congress, the administration, and a number of state legislatures that have a great impact on the approach we will take toward the environment in general and for many very specific natural resource programs....

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Government Wetland Protection

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pp. 53-55

Publicity over wetland regulation in northern Michigan brought to mind the whole question of government’s role in regulating private activity and land use. While our local land conservancy takes no position on regulatory programs, of course, staff members and trustees often discuss and ponder, on an informal basis, the questions and issues involved.
In the interest of playing devil’s advocate on government regulation while advocating for land trusts, I would venture this: Speaking of government protection for wetlands is about like talking about the proverbial fox guarding the...

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Property Taxes

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pp. 56-58

Property tax reform was a hot topic in Michigan when Proposal A (a ballot proposal that changed school funding in Michigan) won passage a few years back, and though the general furor has diminished somewhat, the subject remains quite warm to the touch. Resort property owners question the new practice of taxing seasonal residences at a substantially higher level than “homestead” property. Why, cottage owners ask, should they be forced to pay more in taxes when they cannot vote in the local jurisdictions where their seasonal homes are...

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The Value of Public Land

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pp. 58-62

A long-simmering debate about public land boiled up in Michigan not long ago, with some rural politicians and businesspeople claiming that there is too much public land and that it’s time to stop acquiring more. Some even advocated liquidation of public landholdings.
Public land stifles commerce, they complain, and limits the “tax base” in their jurisdictions. I’ve heard the lament since I was a kid growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: “We need more tax base.” Nothing is said about land, nothing...

Part 5: Economics

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pp. 63-64

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The Natural Resources Sector of the Economy

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pp. 65-67

Since arguing as an Earth Day activist in the early 1970s that economics and environmental protection are mutually exclusive, my views have changed quite a bit. Though it was dogma to many of us that environmentalism was right and economics was wrong, by the mid-1970s, I was studying resource economics in graduate school. In the 1980s, I began work in the private sector of the conservation movement, using donated monies to buy and protect land. And through those and other experiences I have learned not only that economics...

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What Is the Economy, Anyway?

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pp. 67-70

At the 1996 State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference in Windsor, Ontario, people representing science, industry, government, and many other interests from the United States and Canada gathered for three days of seminars, discussion, and what has come to be known as “networking.” The theme of the conference that year was the nearshore, and I was delighted to see the conference focusing not only on traditional Great Lakes water quality issues (industrial and municipal pollution discharges, atmospheric deposition of things like DDT and...

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Unlimited Growth Can Be Sustainable

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pp. 70-72

It was a mantra of ours during the environmental revolution of the 1970s that the world could simply not handle unlimited economic growth. In addition to quoting Malthus, we cited the Club of Rome study, the Ehrlichs’ work on population, and many other sources as proof that there were limits to growth. This variant of environmental orthodoxy is alive and well today, as many people argue against the feasibility of unlimited growth as if it were the fabled Fountain of Youth....

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Elephants and Resource Economics

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pp. 72-74

A visit to Washington, D.C., with the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Leadership Institute in the early 1990s took me to a couple of well-known think tanks, the hallowed halls of Congress, a White House briefing, and much talk of economics and the environment with a number of people from government, business, and industry.
The conversations were lively. Topics ranged from elephant ivory to global climate change, to economics, to politics. In the rarefied air of Washington, as...

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War and Resources

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pp. 74-76

In the run-up to the Gulf War, the disputes were about land. The fact that land has been the principal issue in many of the world’s wars is not surprising when one considers that land is the fundamental resource from which all wealth and food and shelter proceed. Land is the most precious commodity of all. Land represents permanence to us; land is the earth itself.
What a contrast that, as this territorial dispute raged on, our Little Traverse Conservancy celebrated its accomplishments of 1990, including more than...

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Tax Breaks

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pp. 76-78

An August 24, 1999, Wall Street Journal editorial referred to conservation easements as a “tax loophole for the rich,” and “a monument to political correctness and to hypocrisy.” Examples were cited that cast aspersions on easements given by, among others, Ted Turner and Jane Fonda in Pfeiffer Beach, California, and Robert Redford in Sundance, Utah. The editorial cites easements as “uniquely satisfying not one but ...

Part 6: Fathers and Sons

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pp. 79-80

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Thanks, Dad

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pp. 81-85

No one has had greater influence on my life than my father. When it comes to my interests, my career, my outlook, and almost any aspect of my life at all, my father’s influence stands first and foremost as my inspiration.
When I was born, my dad had been working for the Michigan Department of Conservation for about seven years. He had taken a lot of hunting and fishing trips, and I suspect that, after the one he had married, the girl closest to his heart was a certain English setter named Queen. Not that she was more fun to...

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Conservation and the World War II Generation

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pp. 85-88

The 1950 and 1960s have been cited over and over again as the heydays of conservation in Michigan and the zenith of the Michigan Department of Conservation, now the DNR. People go on and on about all that was accomplished by “those guys” who ran the department back then. There’s no disputing the fact that wonderful things happened in Michigan conservation in that era.
So, what was it about “those old guys” like my father who made Michigan conservation so great? I truly believe that a significant part of the answer to...

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Another Generation

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pp. 88-90

I was born some nine years after the end of World War II, but to my own son, I seem ancient enough to date back to the dawn of time and the early cretaceous period. But, like my father, I have taken my son to work with me on a few occasions.
One thing that can get John interested in going to work with me is an airplane trip to Beaver Island. He first journeyed to the island with me for the dedication of a new nature preserve a few years back, and when I mentioned a year later that...

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Enjoying the Snow

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pp. 90-92

How quickly our children grow up! While contemplating the eightyear-old sleeping on the seat beside me, I thought back to earlier days we spent outdoors together. I was suddenly transported back in time to an early winter day.
“Let’s get our snow shovels, Dad,” cries John, and with that we’re out the door. Falling flakes sting our faces, new snow crunches under our boots, and the November gale roars in our ears. Trees around our woodland home gyrate wildly in the storm, breaking enough of the wind so that at ground level we are...

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The Berry Patch and Food from Nature

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pp. 92-94

One year, when John was about four years old, we had quite a blackberry crop. John had become quite adept at spotting the berries hiding under the lower leaves, where his dad tended to miss them. He also knew his edible berries from those which are not. “We don’t eat those, Dad,” he admonished, pointing to a cluster of deadly baneberry. “They’re yuck.” He then put on a detailed demonstration of how he pictures a person reacting to munching on a lethal baneberry dose, complete with his best simulated throw-up sounds,...

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On Becoming a Military Family: Reflections on Home, Land, Security

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pp. 94-98

“It’s not just the kid who joins the Army, it’s the whole family,” wrote a friend. Our sons were close childhood buddies. Her words echo in my mind as I learn firsthand how true this is. Since my son’s enlistment, I have embarked on a whole new host of adventures.
Among the more mundane of these is acquiring a new vocabulary, composed primarily of acronyms. I could not have envisioned, just a couple of years ago, that I would have conversations such as this:...

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As the Sun Begins to Set

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pp. 99-101

For a son who dearly loves his father and treasures time spent and lessons learned, it is never easy to think of one day letting go. But as we learn from nature, all things change and everything is in the process of becoming something else.
Leaves turn color in autumn, then fall to the ground and nourish the forest floor. Every beginning is followed by an end; every sunrise has its sunset. The bittersweet feeling of fall and sunset was heavy in my mind one day as I wrote a letter to my father:...

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Fathers and Sons: Afterword

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pp. 101-104

Several years have passed since the previous pages were written, and a lot of water has gone under the proverbial bridge. My father passed on in 2001, and my son spent most of 2012 on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan. Both my father and my son are my heroes, and around my neck I wear two military dog tags: my father’s worn in World War II, and my son’s from Afghanistan.
Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think, at some point, “I wish I could ask Dad about that,” or, “Dad would love this.” He would be enormously proud of...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 105-110