Last Great Wilderness
The Campaign to Establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is at the center of the conflict between America's demand for oil and nature at its most pristine. Three decades before the battle over oil development began, a group of visionary conservationists launched a controversial campaign to preserve a remote corner of Alaska. Their goal was unprecedented, to protect an entire ecosystem for future generations. Among these conservationists were Olaus and Margaret Murie, who became icons of the wilderness movement.
Last Great Wilderness chronicles their fight and that of their compatriots, tracing the transformation of this little-known expanse of mountains, forest, and tundra into a symbolic landscape embodying the ideals and aspirations that led to passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964.
Roger Kaye has been a wilderness specialist and airplane pilot with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuse for over twenty years. He is an affiliate professor of Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he teaches courses on environmental psychology and wilderness management.
"As pressure once again mounts to drill for oil in the Refuge, Kaye's book is a timely,
thought-provoking look at the power of wilderness."
"Destined to be a classic."
—Int'l Journal of Wilderness
"A top, recommended pick."
—Midwest Book Review
—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
"A must-read for wilderness activists."
"Last Great Wilderness is at once a great story and an authoritative history, documenting the power of wilderness
values and the determination of those who fought to preserve a remarkable place."
—Bill Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society
"Never again in American history will an area as vast and wild as the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge be protected in a single political action. With extraordinary research
skills and the passion of a lifetime spent exploring the Alaskan backcountry, Roger
Kaye tells the story of the most aggressive act of wilderness preservation in America."
—Roderick Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind
"Roger Kaye's spirited and thorough account of the campaign for America's Last Great
Wilderness underscores this wild landscape's symbolic meaning for all Americans and
why so many profoundly cherish it. Publication of this history occasions jubilation
among the witnesses for wilderness whose tireless advocacy he evokes with such clarity
—Ed Zahniser, historian and editor, Where Wilderness Preservation Began
"Last Great Wilderness is much more than a valuable history of the establishment of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge. It is also a thoughtful exploration of the values and meanings of
—Dave Foreman, author of Rewilding North America
"In his absorbing and timely conservation history of the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, Roger Kaye describes the wildlife, scientific, recreational, and symbolic
values that motivated those of us who worked for its establishment in the 1950s. It
reveals why this great and magical wilderness must remain protected and treasured."
—George Schaller, Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society
"This book is important because it reminds us that wilderness protection requires
timely and visionary action before it becomes a political and material impossibility
Roger Kaye's book will be a valuable resource to those interested in Alaska, and more
broadly to those concerned with wilderness issues."
—Ricardo Roura, Arctic Center, University of Groningen