The key to intelligent tinkering is to keep all the parts.
The time is almost upon us when a pack-train must wind its way up a graveled highway and turn its bellmare in the pasture of a summer hotel. When that day comes, the pack-train will be dead, the diamond hitch will be merely rope, and Kit Carson and Jim Bridger will be names in a history lesson. And thenceforth the march of empire will be a matter of gasoline and four wheel brakes.
Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals. Food chains are the living channels which conduct energy upward; death and decay return it to the soil. The circuit is not closed; some energy is dissipated in decay, some is added by absorption from the air, some is stored in soils, peats, and long-lived forests; but it is a sustained circuit, like a slowly augmented revolving fund of life.
"Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization." "Wilderness is a resource which can shrink but not grow... the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible." "For unnumbered centuries of human history the wilderness has given way. The priority of industry has become dogma. Are we as yet sufficiently enlightened to realize that we must now challenge that dogma, or do without our wilderness? Do we realize that industry, which has been our good servant, might make a poor master?" "The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."
The good life on any river may... depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive.
Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of land ñ health.
We of the genus Homo ride the logs that float down the Round river, and by a little judicious "burling" we have learned to guide their direction and speed. This feat entitles us to the specific appellation sapiens. The technique of burling is called economics, the remembering of old routes is called in history, the selection of new ones is called statesmanship, the conversation about oncoming rifles and rapids is called politics. Some of the crew aspire to burl not only their own blogs, but the whole flotilla as well. This collective bargaining with nature is called national planning.