Date of Award



Walter Poleman, PhD

Cheryl Morse, PhD

Christopher Brooks, JD

Document Type



This project examines how wilderness has historically defined human relationships to land and explores how the wilderness concept might evolve to bring humans into relationship with place in the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Region (CABR). The research findings suggest that wilderness has perpetuated a separation between nature and culture that has greatly influenced our collective cultural psyche in the West, and in order to move forward, these elements must be reintegrated into a single holistic system. A review of Indigenous perspectives on wilderness and human-land relationships offers an alternative to the Western wilderness model, which is followed by a discussion of these topics as they pertain to CABR specifically. To further ground the research in CABR, interviews were conducted with a small sample of individuals whose perspective or work gives voice to human-land relationships in the region. The interviews revealed how the history of wilderness is embodied in the perspectives of contemporary people and show the complexity and fusion of ideas that are held within each individual. Finally, in light of these findings, a proposal is made for a shift in wilderness conservation. This new paradigm, termed Reintegrated Landscapes, focuses on reintegrating nature and culture and is grounded in values of belonging to place. In order for land trusts to put these principles into practice, a proposal is made for a Reintegrated Landscape Conservation Easement which embodies this new era in our relationship to land.