Wired, Wild West
Wilderness movements in the U.S. are gathering steam and pushing for protection of ever-larger areas, even as the Republican-controlled Congress thwarts most wilderness bills. An extensive citizen-led survey of Utah lands has lead to a campaign for 9.1 million acres of federally protected wilderness in the state, and has inspired other efforts throughout the West to protect large ecosystems. All in all, conservation groups have identified 210 million acres of public land in Western states that they say deserve wilderness protection. Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) has introduced the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, which would preserve 20 million acres in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Wilderness advocates are much more adept at garnering public support and using the Internet for activism than are their opponents, and they are increasingly using satellite mapping and other high-tech means to support their efforts.