There is a magic in our open spaces, the wild places where each step further feels like one closer to home. They exist as a refuge, a place for stories told in paddle strokes or miles walked. Across the breadth of a continent, from ragged mountain ranges to coastal lowlands, the number of places to explore is only rivaled by the number of ways that you can do it. Woven into our national identity, they are a touchstone of beauty and freedom, handed down from one generation to the next.
In this country, we have just over a million square miles of public land, and that’s something that just thinking about, never fails to stir my imagination. With such a vast amount of acreage out there, it is easy to feel disconnected from what happens in a place you may never have seen or been to, but it is important to still realize that we all have a voice in how it is managed. I think the recent protests of Shell’s arctic oil exploration are a good example of that. Not very many people will ever visit that part of Alaska, but nevertheless, thousands have spoken up for what they would like to see done.
Closer to home, the Rogue River watershed, where I work as a guide, has been threatened by the looming specter of industrial-scale nickel strip mining. Raising public awareness of that is what inspired me to begin a career as a photographer, and has been a tremendous opportunity to view the strength of a community’s voice in determining how our land is managed. The recently introduced Southwest Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act is a direct result of the public outcry to the proposed development of an iconic watershed and has been an inspiration to continue working to introduce people to the wanderland
they did not know they had.
Nate Wilson is a Northwest based river guide, photographer and writer primarily focused on projects in nature. For more of his work, check out www.natewilson.photo