‘Refuge: America’s Wildest Places’ Is A Testament To American Exceptionalism

‘Refuge: America’s Wildest Places’ Is A Testament To American Exceptionalism

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a too often overlooked feature of the American wilderness designations, serving as a sort of black sheep cousin to its older siblings, the National Park System, and the National Forest System.

Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Ian Shive has produced an astonishing artwork exposing the undercover beauty of the nation’s hidden natural wonders that will move readers far beyond their familiarity with the Redwood forests or Half Dome Yosemite.

In the upcoming book, “Refuge: America’s Wildest Places,” Shive gives readers a glimpse of the nation’s largest network of public lands and waterways in the world with a visual anthology that promises to leave viewers gasping at every page.

The nation’s refuge system will present those who pick up the book with the “most amazing places they’ve ‘never seen,’” to paraphrase a quip from Refuge Manager Steve Delehanty in one of the volume’s essays.

While the book is not entirely apolitical, the politics are tame the few times they are explicit, offering passive criticism to the typical targets of mainstream environmentalist frustration. Overall, however, this is not a political book. Rather, it is a spiritually-rich appreciation for the nation’s natural treasures that serves as a testament to its exceptionalism by preserving them. 

“If the national parks are our best idea, then the National Wildlife Refuge System is our crowning achievement,” Shive writes. 

In showcasing the breathtaking landscapes from the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to the fall foliage of New England wildlife refuges, Shive harnesses decades of experience to best capture what is impossible to catch by the digital lens.

By the grace of modern technology complete with the proficiency of a skilled photographer operating at the highest levels of the profession, Shive has successfully been able to bring at least a sliver of the tranquility and inspiration offered in the nation’s wildest places to the confined spaces of pandemic-ridden homes on lockdown. The moving tribute in a 200-page book makes clear that a commitment to preservation must be neither a leftist nor conservative one, but an American one, as it always has been. 

Throughout its collection of essays woven into the picturesque landscapes, Shive conveys the importance of preserving these overlooked features of American greatness.

Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]
Photo Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, photo taken by Ian Shive
Photo Filmmaker Ian Shive films Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) with a juvenile at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Midway Atoll is located on the far northern end of the Hawaiian archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean and is roughly halfway between North America and Asia. It is one the oldest atoll formations in the world that provides nesting habitat for millions of seabirds and is the site of one of the most significant naval battles in history. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Established June 15, 2006 and expanded in August 2016, Papahānaumokuākea is largest contiguous fully-protected conservation area under the U.S. flag, and currently the largest marine conservation area in the world.
Photo A Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) with juvenile at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Midway Atoll is located on the far northern end of the Hawaiian archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean and is roughly halfway between North America and Asia. It is one the oldest atoll formations in the world that provides nesting habitat for millions of seabirds and is the site of one of the most significant naval battles in history. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Established June 15, 2006 and expanded in August 2016, Papahānaumokuākea is largest contiguous fully-protected conservation area under the U.S. flag, and currently the largest marine conservation area in the world.
Photo Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Kodiak Island, Alaska
Photo Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, Guadalupe, California.
Photo Convict tang and bluefin trevally in a vibrant coral reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge part of the larger Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument which was established on January 6, 2009. The coral reef here is considered one of the most pristine in the world, allowing scientists and researchers an opportunity to study what a healthy reef should look like. Healthy reefs, mean healthy sharks! Healthy sharks, mean healthy reefs.
Photo Convict tang and bluefin trevally in a vibrant coral reef at Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge part of the larger Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument which was established on January 6, 2009. The coral reef here is considered one of the most pristine in the world, allowing scientists and researchers an opportunity to study what a healthy reef should look like. Healthy reefs, mean healthy sharks! Healthy sharks, mean healthy reefs.
Related Posts