I look forward to attending this free talk in Boulder: “Beyond 127 Hours: An Evening with Aron Ralston to Protect the Greater Canyonlands” this Thursday, March 8, 2012, at the Boulder Theater.
Ralston is a Colorado-based writer and explorer whose book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Atria Books, 2004), describes his now-famous 2003 ordeal in the Utah wilderness when he amputated his own arm in order to escape and survive a rock entrapment. His story is also the subject of the film, 127 Hours.
This Thursday, Ralston will discuss his conservation efforts in southern Utah. Specifically, the Greater Canyonlands, the area where his incident occurred. Greater Canyonlands, he explained, is an under-protected region threatened by a number of activities, including the extraction of gas, oil, tar sands, and uranium, right on the doorstep of Canyonlands National Park. Ralston has teamed up with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) in a campaign to ask President Obama to designate the Greater Canyonlands a national monument.
“I’m happy to be an ambassador for the desert,” Ralston told me in a phone interview. “To tell people why itâ€™s precious and worth saving.”
He proceeded to gush about the Greater Canyonlands, a stunning swath of red-rock desert, about 1.4 million acres, most of it managed by the Bureau of Land Management. In addition to the raw, jaw-dropping beauty of the place, our “legacy and heritage” are there, Ralston said, referring to the many archaeological sites and artifacts found in the area.
“It can all be protected with the stroke of a pen,” he said, summing up the current campaign.
He is referring to the Antiquities Act, which Congress passed in 1906 granting the President the power to designate National Monuments. SUWA and Ralston are asking supporters to send the President a message in the form of a sign. A sign that says, “Protect Greater Canyonlands.”
I am fortunate to have traveled in the Greater Canyonlands. I floated right through its heart on a canoe trip down the Green River. The experience remains one of the most epic, transformative adventures of my life. My friend and I paddled for eight days, camping along the river and tying up to explore the side canyons whenever possible. The wild vastness of the place was the most remarkable thing. I can’t imagine losing that.
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Top photo: Courtesy Aron Ralston and SUWA. Bottom photo by Joshua Berman, hiker is Sean Gaughan.