At an event at the State Capitol today in Denver, Governor Hickenlooper, The Wilderness Society, Conservation Colorado, Sierra Club and other organizations celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Governor issued a proclamation to honor Colorado’s wilderness areas and to recognize the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law on September 3, 1964.
To continue the celebration in other parts of Colorado, several groups are sponsoring a state-wide tour by Colorado nature photographer John Fielder to honor wilderness, which is the country’s highest form of land protection.
The Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years, as a result of broad support for wilderness, Congress has added more than 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system.
In Colorado, 3.6 million acres have been protected as wilderness since 1964, including such diverse lands as the Maroon Bells, Gunnison Gorge, Flat Tops, Great Sand Dunes and much of Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado’s wilderness achievements include 43 separate wilderness areas, each with a story of citizens working together to permanently protect some of the most iconic places in the state. But chapters of the story remain to be written. Today, Coloradans are working to add deserving places like parts of the Hermosa Creek watershed, the San Juan Mountains, and Browns Canyon to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The travelling exhibit will include 20 fine art photographs of existing and proposed wilderness areas in Colorado. John Fielder is Colorado’s best-known nature photographer. During his distinguished 33-year career as a photographer and publisher, Fielder has worked tirelessly to promote the protection of the ranches, open space and wildlands throughout the state.
“John’s portraits of Colorado wilderness are sure to inspire Coloradans and remind us that preserving these places is an essential part of our cultural fabric,” says Scott Miller, senior regional director at The Wilderness Society. “The exhibit illustrates the debt we owe to those who helped protect these landscapes through the Wilderness Act. Our generation now has the opportunity to save other wild places that provide recreation and economic benefits to the state as well as beauty, critical wildlife habitat and watershed protection.”
Beginning in September, the photos will be on display at the Denver Public Library as part of a unique wilderness exhibit that includes materials from The Wilderness Society’s historical archives, which are an important part of the library’s renowned Conservation Collection.
The Wilderness Society also will cosponsor a 50th anniversary celebration conference with the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School on September 5, 2014. John Fielder will open that gathering with a wilderness slide show and talk on the evening of September 4th at the law school.
Information about the wilderness exhibit and slide show locations and dates, as well as how to purchase prints, books, and posters, can be found at www.johnfielder.com.
To learn more about the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, visit www.wilderness50th.org.