Progress. Development. Economic Growth. That's what is seemingly important these days. But then again, it seems that's always been important; particularly in this country. In 1918, Leopold wrote "The Popular Wilderness Fallacy: An Idea that is Fast Exploding". Interesting title, but unfortunately the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When the pioneer hewed a path for progress through the American wilderness, there was bred into the American people the idea that civilization and forests were two mutually exclusive propositions. Development and forest destruction went hand in hand; we therefore adopted the fallacy that they were synonomous. A stump was our symbol of progress. We have since learned, with some pains, that extensive forests are not only compatible with civilization, but absolutely essential to its highest development.
I disagree with him on this. I don't think we've learned anything about forests, water, prairies, and wetlands being compatible with, let alone essential to the development of civilization. There are few cases where nature even ties with development or civilization.