Wild nature fills the mythology of the American West. But is the wild disappearing? Despite this common fear, the restoration of animals like grizzly bears, bison, and wolves means that, in some contexts, Montana’s wild nature may actually be starting to increase again. Nature, it turns out, may be on the point of being renewed. Christopher Preston looks at how these examples of renewal fit with the traditional account of nature preservation and what they might mean for how we think about the surrounding landscape going forward.
Christopher Preston teaches environmental philosophy at the University of Montana, Missoula. His expertise revolves around the idea of the Anthropocene, the epoch in which human influence is everywhere. He studies emerging technologies for their impact on the human-nature experience, as well as restoration and rewilding efforts. His award-winning book, The Synthetic Age: Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World, has been translated into six languages. His next book, Tenacious Beasts: Wildlife Recoveries That Change How We Think about Animals (February 2023), offers hope for recovering species as well as lessons about how to live with them.