Mountain Majesties above Fruited Plains: Culture, Nature, and Rocky Mountain Aesthetics

Environmental Ethics 30 (1):3-20 (2008)
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Those residing in the Rocky Mountains enjoy both nature and culture in ways not characteristic of many inhabited landscapes. Landscapes elsewhere in the United States and in Europe involve a nature-culture synthesis. An original nature, once encountered by settlers, has been transformed by a dominating culture, and on the resulting landscape, there is little experience of primordial nature. On Rocky Mountain landscapes, the model is an ellipse with two foci. Much of the landscape is in synthesis, but there is much landscape where the principal determinant remains spontaneous nature, contrasted with the developed, rebuilt landscape in which the principal determinant is culture. Life in the Rockies permits both use and admiration of nature, with constant reminders that the human scale of values is rather tentatively localized in a more comprehensive environment.



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