Reimagining a Place for the Wild

Reimagining a Place for the Wild contains a diverse collection of personal stories that describe encounters with the remaining wild creatures of the American West and critical essays that reveal wildlife’s essential place in western landscapes. Gleaned from historians, journalists, biologists, ranchers, artists, philosophers, teachers, and conservationists, these narratives expose the complex challenges faced by wild animals and those devoted to understanding them. Whether discussing keystone species like grizzly bears and gray wolves or microfauna swimming the thermal depths of geysers, these accounts reflect the authors’ expertise as well as their wonder and respect for wild nature. The writers do more than inform our sensibilities; their narratives examine both humanity’s conduct and its capacity for empathy toward other life. A selection of photos and paintings punctuates the volume.

This collection sprang from the Reimagine Western Landscapes Symposium held at the University of Utah’s Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Education Center in Centennial Valley, Montana. These testaments join a chorus of voices seeking improved relations with the western wild in the twenty-first century.

Leslie Miller directs the Reimagine Western Landscapes Initiative. She was a leading advocate for open space preservation in Park City, Utah and has served on the University of Utah College of Humanities Partnership Board since 2003. She is a writer with feature stories in Park City Magazine, Salt Lake City Weekly,Carmel Magazine, and other publications.

Louise Excell is emeritus professor of English and humanities at Dixie State University. She now volunteers for environmental projects and serves on the boards of the Virgin River Land Preservation Association, the Mesa Retreat Center for Writers and Artists, and the Reimagine Western Landscapes Initiative.

Christopher Smart has been a Utah journalist since 1983. Formally educated in biology, he has long been interested in the wild and the meaning it holds for culture and people.

Table of Contents:
Director’s Preface: The Heart of Reimagining
Leslie Miller
Waiting for Wolves – Jeremy Schmidt
Living in a Circle of Heartbeats – Julia Corbett
Field Notes from Twenty Years of Living into a Story of Grizzly Reconnection – Steve Primm
Reimagining the Range of Wild: Biodiversity in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Its Relevance in the World –  John D. Varley
Reimagining the American West: Building a North American West for the People Who Want to Stay  – Harvey Locke
Reimagining Wild Life on the Northern Plains: Lessons from the Little Bighorn – Gregory E. Smoak
Beauty as a Foundation for Conservation Ethics – Kirk C. Robinson
Altered State: A Place for Wildlife – Monte Dolack
Saving Things, Saving the West – James C. McNutt
Love Has No Net Zero-Sum – Erin Halcomb
Managing, Accommodating, and Sustaining the Wild – Wendy Fisher
Conserving Wild Bison in the Twenty-First Century – Robert B. Keiter
Ranching Communities and Conservation Must Be Combined – Yvonne Martinell
Managing and Sustaining the Wild – Kerry C. Gee
Wildlife Encounters – Michael Blenden
Restoring Transcendent Humanities Values as a Step to Reimagine Western Landscapes – Timothy Bywater
The Environmental Crisis and the Ecology of the Environmental Humanities – Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy
List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:
“Reading through this anthology, brought back childhood moments of discovery as well as the answers to questions that have lingered since then. Aside from the personal gift to people like myself with an abiding interest in the wild dwellers that preceded us on this land, Reimagining a Place for the Wild will be an invaluable resource in college courses. Congratulations to the authors for this outstanding anthology.”
—Florence R. Shepard, author with Susan Marsh of Saving Wyoming’s Hoback

“Leslie Miller believes we can use these stories and essays to ‘reimagine western landscapes.’ And she asks us to do so in ways that ‘contribute to the welfare of wild nature in the twenty-first century.’ This is a tall order. But the writers in her book map our path. Jeremy Schmidt reminds us that ‘Wildness is everywhere. It is part of us… the matrix in which we live.’ Erin Halcomb prays, ‘For restraint: To stop myself from taking, and doing.’ And Harvey Locke sums up our challenge: ‘To right the wrongs done to Nature, to native people, and to ourselves in a place that we call home.’ So, what are you going to do?”
—Stephen Trimble, author of Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in the West

“Though the collection is unmistakably regional, many of these same concerns are repeated wherever civilization and nature must coexist; this book appeals to a much wider audience than westerners or ecologists only. … Reimagining a Place for the Wild deserves a place in the canon of American ecological literature alongside the likes of Muir, Leopold, and Carson.”
World Literature Today