News & Opinion | March 7, 2017 9:00 am

Why a 1960 Letter to Congress About the Environment Matters More Today Than Ever

This wilderness ode will have you lacing up your hiking gear

When it comes to protecting the environment, conservationists have their arguments at the ready: 

“The woods offer an annual economic impact of $646B,” they say. “The woods keep us healthy!” they yell. 

When it’s all said and done, these are rational arguments. But perhaps rational arguments are useless these days. 

Which is what makes this call-to-action video — created by the land lovers Hipcamp —so righteous: it appeals to the emotional side. It’s an ode to nature shot in some of our country’s most beautiful locations. The narrated script is an abbreviated version of a letter that novelist Wallace Stegner drafted to Congress in 1960, which helped establish the Wilderness Preservation System in 1964. Seriously, take a few minutes and watch it: 

If the letter shows anything, it’s that our country was tamer in matters of civil discourse back then. But it’s how Stegner frames his call for conservation as a spiritual need that I think should appeal to people today, as it did then. Many Americans are scared of what technology is going their jobs and way of life. Stegner speaks to — and almost presages — these concerns, and with a tone and style that’s as soothing as a pastor’s sermon to the converted.

Hipcamp, a company that makes booking a campsite very easy, made the video as a way to get its customers to support the Petition for Public Lands, which as you may have heard, hang in jeopardy.

Here’s to hoping this video sparks in you a call to action, as it did for us.