Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 26:3 (Summer 2006). Copyright © 2006 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


A careful reading of recent issues of the Natural Areas Journal, the publication of the Natural Areas Association, will leave you with the conclusion that humans are not a part of natural areas. When humans do appear, it is either as disturbing agents, disrupting the naturalness through, for example, the introduction of exotic plants and animals, or as managers, enhancing the naturalness through, for example, prescribed burning. This is an explicit and purposeful exclusion: "We can probably all agree," wrote the editor of the journal in 2004, "that 'natural' places are areas where human actions have minimally changed the communities and processes that occur there." In fact, the stated mission of the Natural Areas Association is specifically "to benefit and protect natural areas by minimizing the human impact."