Published: Sept. 27, 2005

September 23, 2005.  The restoration of the Florida Everglades.  The wolves' return to Yellowstone.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Each was a landmark of environmental progress.  Each was realized under the guidance of former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt. In his new book, Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America, Babbitt develops the surprising message that these conservation victories will not be sufficient to protect our disappearing open spaces.  He suggests that some level of federal land use planning is needed to address the increasingly serious problems associated with urban sprawl and the loss of native habitats.  He talks specifically in his book about the federal program to restore the Everglades, the role of the endangered species act in land use planning, the loss of the tall prairie grasslands to the cornfields of Iowa, changes to the Clean Water Act that might improve land use planning, and last, but not least, the need for laws and policies that subordinate mining, grazing, and logging on the public lands to biodiversity conservation.