Does the “wild” of the West still live? That was one of the questions that writer Jason Mark set out to answer in his new book, Satellites in the High Country (2015). Crossing over the physical boundary between our tech-dependent North American society and areas of wilderness, Mark has explored regions where wildlife and nature seem to remain untouched and where they intersect with the modern age in perhaps surprising ways.
Mark’s travels take him to such locations as New Mexico, Colorado, and Washington state. In one telling example of the crossroads between nature and the 21st century, he writes about how the still of a starry night sky in Colorado’s High Country is broken by the movement of a satellite passing overheard – all those communications taking place unaware of the “view”.
One of the debates in the book is the degree to which nature should be left alone and/or developed. As well, Mark looks at the movement of “re-wilding”, in which animals pushed from their original landscape by humans are re-introduced in an effort to balance a region’s ecosystem. One example of this is the re-introduction of grey wolves to the northern Rockies. The effect of this in Yellowstone National Park has been to push the natural prey of the wolves, elk, to graze and move in a more efficient way, which has allowed for the return of aspen trees and beaver.
Satellites in the High Country runs 320 pages and further information about the book can be found at Island Press.
(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)