Making wilderness: Isle Royale

Off the coast of Canada is a huge island wilderness which the rangers call pristine.  It has been logged and mined and fished out, yet today it’s kept wild by the efforts of the National Park Service and the thousands of visitors enlisted every year.  Isle Royale has resident herds of friendly moose who roam the campgrounds, rabbits who live next to the lodge, and squirrels who see no reason to get off the hiking trails.  Beaver and wolf are less visible but close by as their dams and scat attest.

isle royale lighthouse

All visitors are indoctrinated, if not harangued, by the boat captain and the park rangers before they can even set foot on the island. These gatekeepers even enforce ritual behaviors such as brushing your feet to keep out seed of alien species.  Only then can you pay big bucks to board the ferry for the four to five hour ride across the world’s largest freshwater lake to the island on the other side.

We just came back from several glorious August days hiking and canoeing these islands where cars and motorbikes are not allowed and cell phones don’t work. We visited research stations studying the moose and wolves and climbed to the top of an 1848 lighthouse. Strangers quickly became friends as we learned how the land had been abused by man but reclaimed.

You may  find lots to criticize about America today, but  not about our attitude toward wildlife and wilderness. The wild has made a comeback in the last century in America.  We have more forests and deer in the US than when it was first settled.  Wolves, bear, panthers,and  coyotes are all quickly increasing in numbers.

If the attitude and methods of Americans to their parks were adopted in Africa and around the world, rhinos and hippos and giraffes and zebras would be multiplying rapidly>  Instead they are declining so precipitously that American and European zoos may be the only place you can see them soon.

If our only concern was wilderness, we would annex vast portions of Africa and turn it over to Americans and Europeans to manage. If the park rangers could get Africans and Chinese to cooperate, you’d see the same rebound we have seen in the US since the American people and their government began to take conservation seriously.

Wilderness in the US has once again become a place to escape find peace and hope. Maybe it will even engender the prophets it once did. Yeshua and all the prophets were invigorated by the wilderness as are visitors to Isle Royale today.  Maybe you or your children will visit an American wilderness and be inspired to recreate wilderness around the world.