The University of Wisconsin Press

Environment / Law / Native American Studies / Religion / Geography


Worship and Wilderness
Culture, Religion, and Law in Public Lands Management
Lloyd Burton

How the intertwining influences of culture, religion, and law affect the management of public lands

Questions about land use, conservation, and preservation—already so perplexing and contentious—take on a new complexity, and greater urgency, when the land in question is understood as sacred. This is a view increasingly held, as adherents of mainstream religions come to recognize what indigenous peoples knew centuries ago—that the sacred inheres in nature itself. What such a trend means and how it involves the forces of culture, religion, and constitutional law (especially First Amendment clauses concerning the free exercise of religion) are considered with a remarkable breadth and depth of understanding in this important new work.

Drawing on case studies of national parks and monuments, national forests, and other public lands and resources, Lloyd Burton gives a clear and comprehensive account of how the intertwining influences of culture, religion, and law have affected the management of public lands and resources in the recent past and how they may do so in the future. In a unique and unprecedented way, his book weaves together teachings on nature and the sacred among indigenous and immigrant culture groups in the United States; the relevant constitutional history of religion and government action; and analysis of contemporary conflicts over culture, religion, and public lands management. As such, Worship and Wilderness is essential reading not only for public land managers and environmental policymakers but also for anyone interested in the growing significance of religious interests in the use of resources that constitute our national commons and our common natural heritage.

Very original. Burton has brought together many diverse sources in primarily law and religion to present an analysis of the current state of human rights and the political problems of the environment. Nothing is as comprehensive as this book in weaving the two strands together.”
—Vine Deloria Jr., author of Custer Died for Your Sins

Lloyd Burton is associate professor and director of the Program in Environmental Policy, Management, and Law in the Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado at Denver. He is co-founder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

cover of Burton's book is a painting of a towering Native American sacred site in the West

November 2002
312 pp.          6 x 9
Book icon
Paper $24.95 s
Book icon
Cloth $55.00 s
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.
E-mail: or by phone at 608-263-0733.

Updated 10/24/2014

© 2010, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System