March 8, 2019 | By:

Episode 19: John Miles On The New Wilderness Bill

John Miles

John Miles, Author, Conservation Historian, Rewilding Institute Board Member

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a win like the one that is expected to be signed by the President soon. The conservation community is buzzing about the Charles Dingell Jr. Conservation Management and Recreation Act, and rightly so.

The legislation permanently continues the federal Land Water Conservation Fund, which helps pay for critical conservation efforts nationwide. Oh, and it adds 1 million acres of new wilderness designation.

Organ Mountains, NM. From National Monument to Wilderness Protection.

Organ Mountains, NM. From National Monument to designated Wilderness area.

Something of this scope hasn’t been passed since President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The legislation designated an additional 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness, representing the largest expansion of protected wildlands in over 25 years.

This stuff doesn’t happen often. What does it mean to the conservation community and public at large to see bipartisan support for such a bill during one of the most divisive times in American history? And what will it do to inspire new conservationists to join the ranks in protecting what we have while advocating even more wildlands protection in the future? Find out on this episode of Rewilding Earth!

About John Miles

blankDavid Brower, then Executive Director of the Sierra Club, gave a talk at Dartmouth College in 1965 on the threat of dams to Grand Canyon National Park. John, a New Hampshire native who had not yet been to the American West, was flabbergasted. “What Can I do?” he asked. Brower handed him a Sierra Club membership application, and he was hooked, his first big conservation issue being establishment of North Cascades National Park.

After grad school at the University of Oregon, John landed in Bellingham, Washington, a month before the park was created. At Western Washington University he was in on the founding of Huxley College of Environmental Studies, teaching environmental education, history, ethics and literature, ultimately serving as dean of the College.

He taught at Huxley for 44 years, climbing and hiking all over the West, especially in the North Cascades, for research and recreation. Author and editor of several books, including Wilderness in National Parks, John served on the board of the National Parks Conservation Association, the Washington Forest Practices Board, and helped found and build the North Cascades Institute.

Retired and now living near Taos, New Mexico, he continues to work for national parks, wilderness, and rewilding the earth.


  • John D Dingell Jr. Conservation Management and Recreation Act
  • How such a bipartisan success could come out of this Congress
  • Similarities between conservationists and Coyotes
  • Patterns in conservation history

Extra Credit: Read a breakdown of what’s in the bill here.

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