This American Land


These roadless areas in the Yaak are public lands: lands owned by you, by me, by these writers, and by all Americans. Lands that, against overwhelming odds, have managed to retain the grace of their initial creation; fourteen last gardens where all the various and intensely interconnected cycles of life are still free to play out at the original pace with which they were first designed by the Creator.

Nothing has ever gone extinct in the Yaak — not since the time of mastadons and mammoths — though many of the populations are down to a single or double digit tally, like a reverse kind of Noah’s Ark. Five or six wolves; only two known breeding female grizzly bears, rare even among the rare; one occasional woodland caribou.

The Yaak is a vital linchpin, the narrowest bottleneck in a chain of wildness that extends north from the Yellowstone country all the way up toward the Yukon. And not one acre of it is protected. Not one acre.

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Rick Bass is the author of over thirty books, including most recently, With Every Great Breath. He is a winner of the Story Prize, the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, a PEN/Nelson Algren Award Special Citation for fiction, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He has served as contributing editor to Sierra, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Big Sky Journal, Amicus Journal, Outside, Orion, Field & Stream, The Contemporary Wingshooter, and many other publications. He currently serves on the editorial board of Whitefish Review and teaches at the Stonecoast MFA low residency program. He was born and raised in Texas, worked as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi, and has lived in Montana’s Yaak Valley for almost thirty years.