Edward Abbey

In the 1950’s and 60’s Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger in Arches National Monument, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Florida Everglades, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.  He was an author and staunch advocate for the environment.  In 1968 he published his first non-fiction book, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, based upon his time at Arches.

Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey

Almost thirty years ago, in 1987, he was labeled a racist and eco-terrorist based upon his opposition to illegal immigration (he was concerned that population growth would further damage the environment) and the tactics he supported to fight government and industry (he felt he was defending people and the environment from terrorism perpetrated by government and industry). He denied these labels.  Politically he was an anarchist and drew the interest of the FBI for most of his later life.

In a 1976 speech, Abbey, also a philosopher,  said:

 

“It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

“So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.

“Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

– Edward Abbey

This 1985 video is an eight minute essay written and presented by Abbey with a  backdrop of Arches National Park. In it Abbey reminisces about his time at the park and laments the loss of the wild park he knew when he worked there – “too many roads now, too much asphalt, too much traffic, too many people.”

Abbey made one last statement before he died, asking his friends to ignore the rules, haul his body int0 the wilderness in a pickup truck and bury him in his sleeping bag saying, he wanted to help “fertilize the growth of a cactus or cliff rose or sagebrush or tree.”  He wanted his final words to be,  “No comment.”  Abbey died March 14, 1989 at age 62.

Books by Edward Abbey

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