Wilderphobia Definition

This came from a friend in Cody, Wyoming:


1. Being allergic or hostile to creation of any new wilderness area
2. Fear of any open space not delineated by a fence, a road, a pipeline, an ATV track, a cow trail, or power line
2-a. Fear that said tract won’t generate any tangible revenue because it lacks delineation and manmade structures
3. Total rejection of the notion that sometimes the highest and best use of something is to just leave it alone…

Vernacular: A psychological syndrome common in areas where there are still large tracts of federal public land that resemble America before the Eurocentric -White Man claimed it then deeded it part and parcel, initially to the wealthiest aristocrats, the highest bidders; or allowed it to be taken by force from the Natives; or just plain squatted on it and built fence because God told them it was OK to do that (Genesis 1:20-27). Ownership was thereby proclaimed because there were little pieces of paper at the Courthouses that said so. The entirely made-up notion prevailed that land was only worth something if somebody owned it or extracted something from it (see Manifest Destiny). Unfortunately, or fortunately, interior North America was bigger than anyone realized, and the greedy White Man couldn’t get to all the land and claim it and stake it and write new scriptures (metes and bounds) before it occurred to the Wise Men that maybe we ought to set some of this aside so the advancing Robber Barons and avaricious settlers can’t touch it. (Washburn, Hayden et al; Yellowstone, 1871)

Wilderphobia is commonly expressed these days as a neurotic desire to exert control over those remaining lands because they belong to Them , not Us , when really it’s all just Us…

3 thoughts on “Wilderphobia Definition

  1. I really loved this post. As someone who rarely gets outside the fences it makes me appreciate it all the more when I have the opportunity to see ‘the wild’. It has never made sense to me that so many people don’t understand that these lands belong to everyone and no one.

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