In the far northeast corner of Alaska, with no roads going in or out, lay nearly 20 million acres of wildlife refuge.
It's the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest national wildlife refuge in the country.
Its goals are very specific: to conserve animals and plants in their natural diversity, to ensure a place for hunting and gathering activities, to protect water quality and quantity, and to fulfill international wildlife treaty obligations.
It's a beautiful place. And recently, Michael Brune of the Sierra Club was lucky enough to visit it.
During his trip up to the Arctic, he realized some important things.
Contemplating the refuge, Michael says:
“One of the things that defines our country is the vast areas of magnificent wilderness that we have."
"These are part of what the American experience is."
"Protecting the Arctic is really about protecting and enhancing what it is that makes our country what it is."
America is made up of so many beautiful natural landscapes like this one.
The Grand Canyon. Niagara Falls. The redwood forests. These are just a few of the attractions that are not only cherished by us, but are admired by people all around the world.
Protecting them isn't just a noble cause, it's downright patriotic.
Why? Because these are a huge part of what makes America, well, American.
If this "America is our wilderness" theme sounds familiar, it's because you've probably heard it before. Henry David Thoreau spoke in 1862 of the importance of wild spaces left to decay and flourish.
When Michael Brune talks about wilderness, it's as if he is channelling some of America's great naturalists and most passionate environmentalists — like John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt, two founders of the Sierra Club.
Wilderness has been important to Americans for a long time. Hear Michael's voice in this video, tying our American identities to the wild places we protect:
Puts it in a kind of unique perspective, no?