WASHINGTON –Today, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring September as National Wilderness Month. The proclamation comes at a time of opportunity for our wildlands: the conclusion of America’s Great Outdoors listening sessions and National Public Lands Day, which kicks off Wilderness Week at the end of September.
William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society, said about the proclamation:
President Obama’s National Wilderness Month proclamation comes as we prepare for the 46th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on September 3. Today, thanks to visionaries like Aldo Leopold and Howard Zahniser, nearly 110 million acres of our shared lands are protected as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Wilderness Society has played a part in working to protect the majority of these lands every step of the way.
Our public lands are essential to our American heritage. They belong to all Americans and constitute a legacy for future generations. Wilderness sustains our communities by providing our families with clean drinking water and healthy air. Our public lands spur local economies and provide jobs through restoration, conservation and recreation. These special places even store carbon that otherwise would contribute to climate change, and they provide wildlife space to adapt to climate change. We celebrate and encourage the deep connections between people and place, forged by recreation on public lands.
President Obama’s proclamation stated, “Together, we must ensure that future generations can experience the tranquility and grandeur of America’s natural places. As we resolve to meet this responsibility, let us also reflect on the ways in which our lives have been enriched by the gift of American wilderness.”
As we commemorate National Wilderness Month and all that it represents, we must celebrate our accomplishments and also look forward to all that needs to be done. We are hopeful that many pending wilderness proposals are approved by Congress this year and that President Obama will sign them into law. And above all, we must inspire people – young and old – to cherish and experience our shared treasured lands not just in September, but always.