One way to understand military-to-wildlife transitions is through the framework of Risk Society offered by sociologist Ulrich Beck. Beck outlines the risks assumed by aging industrial societies and how these extend both over time and across space to impact nature and society. This chapter describes how military-to-wildlife land use changes fit the terms of risk society, and how these risks pose challenges to the environmental gains that seem to come from such transitions. It also examines how wildlife refuges created from military lands struggle to fit within usual categories of public lands.
Keywords: national wildlife refuges, wildlife conservation, Shawankgunk Grasslands, public lands, Big Oaks, risk society, military contamination, militarized landscapes