Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. Photo by Jeff Fox.
The Wilderness Act turns 45 this Sept.3, and to honor this visionary legislation the Senate passed a resolution commemorating this lasting source of pride for all Americans. To be sure, the world has never seen legislation like it: a deliberate and visionary effort to protect from development vast areas of wild places, and to preserve them for the enjoyment of all Americans of every generation.
The Senate’s resolution honors the Wilderness Act by upholding the American tradition of protecting wilderness and preserving wild places as a legacy to our children. These are your wildlands — icons of America's natural heritage and identity. Not only do wilderness areas afford us a place to camp, canoe, hunt, or hike, they also provide us with clean air, pure water, and give ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them a fighting chance against climate change.
When the Wilderness Act was signed into law on September 3, 1964, it immediately protected nine million acres, including such wild icons as the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, the Bob Marshall in Montana, and the John Muir Wilderness in California. Since that time, more than a hundred million additional acres of protected land have been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System, including more than 2 million acres added when President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill into law last March.
Still, this remains less than five percent of the nation’s landmass. Today, citizens around the nation continue to work to ensure that America’s last few unspoiled landscapes are protected and remain forever wild.
Take a moment to see the resolution and read about the impressive history and diverse values of designated wilderness.
Share in the celebration. Dig up your best photos from your wilderness adventures and submit them to our Wild45 Photo Contest until Aug. 26.
photo: Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. Photo by Jeff Fox.