Book Review:
Drawing Lines in the Forest: Creating Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest

  • Posted 12/29/2008
  • Essay 8879

By Kevin Marsh
University of Washington Press, 2007
Hardcover, 227 pages
Illustrations, bibliography, index
ISBN:  978-0-295-98702-6

Drawing Lines in the Forest, written by Idaho historian Kevin Marsh, is a scholarly work that takes a close look at the debates over wilderness boundaries that were drawn in the Oregon and Washington Cascades between 1950 and 1984.  The book presents case studies discussing the creation of wilderness areas at Three Sisters, the North Cascades, Mount Jefferson, the Alpine Lakes, and French Pete, and concludes with a chapter, “Picking Up the Pieces,” which discusses wilderness areas in Oregon and Washington that were created by legislation in 1984 to protect lands or “pick up the pieces” left over from earlier wilderness campaigns. Marsh discusses roles played by various groups -- environmentalists, the timber industry, and the Forest Service -- that negotiated the boundaries to these wilderness areas, and provides a detailed analysis of the interests, issues, and politics raised by the parties during these negotiations.

It has been argued that the wilderness debates in the Cascades during the last half of the twentieth century represent some of the most significant stages in the national history of wilderness during that time.  Far from being a local work, however, the book offers a perspective relevant to all wilderness areas of the United States, not just the Northwest, though Marsh also recognizes that land conservation issues are inherently local issues because of the particular lands and particular communities and constituencies that are affected by the drawing of wilderness boundaries. Carefully researched and well written, the book offers a detailed look at issues surrounding wilderness creation and encourages its readers to think more broadly about land conservation in the United States.

--By Phil Dougherty

Submitted: 12/29/2008

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You