Andrew Gulliford lives in Durango, Colorado, near the "Four Corners" where Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico meet. This area, the Colorado Plateau wildland, "has some of the finest hiking and wilderness areas in the United States,” Andrew says. His life in southwest Colorado offers him the opportunity to explore wilderness often.
A hiking paradise
“The Colorado Plateau, with 85 million acres in the Four Corners states, has more national parks, national monuments, national forests and federally and tribally designated wilderness areas than anywhere on earth,” Andrew explains.
A professor of history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, Andrew’s courses in environmental history are popular with students. He says that too often we “take" a hike without thinking about “giving back” to our national treasure: wilderness.
A deep appreciation for the wild
The Colorado Plateau became Andrew’s place to love and defend. As a young man just out of college, he moved there from the high plains and began experiencing places like the Henry Mountains and the Escalante River.
“These remote places provide rare opportunities to experience what has been lost to us in the 21st century,” he says.
Andrew is never quite as happy as when he steps into a designated wilderness area.
“Once I cross that magical boundary, I know that I will encounter only hikers or horsemen because I’ve left the world of machines and roads behind,” he says. “I’ve entered a landscape as close to nature as we can find in America, a place where natural systems and processes, including wildland fires, are allowed to restore nature’s balance.”
Remembering our legacy
Andrew says we need wilderness not only for plants and animals, but also because wilderness and access to wildlands helped to shape our American character.
“Who we are as a nation, and who we became as a people, is a direct result of our intimate contact with wild landscapes,” he says.
Who we are as a nation, and who we became as a people, is a direct result of our intimate contact with wild landscapes.
Andrew writes books about the history of our relationship to the environment, taking after authors like Wallace Stegner, who once wrote, “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”
- Andrew Gulliford's books: