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Wilderness Designation FAQs
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Since the Wilderness Act passed in 1964, Congress has designated nearly 110 million acres of federal wildlands as official wilderness. Official wilderness has the highest form of protection of any federal wildland.
The President’s Council on Environmental Quality developed this report about off-road vehicle use on public lands in 1979. This well-written and insightful report offers a historical perspective about how the modern off-road vehicle came to be and analyzes the issues surrounding ORV use on public lands, the policies taken by the land agencies to address the issues, and offers solutions.
Ever since European settlement of the West, there has been dust, caused by outside forces breaking the fragile crust that holds undisturbed desert soil in place. Initially, grazing cattle kicked up the dust. Scientists say it is now more likely to be caused by off-road vehicles, mountain bikers or energy exploration. In a study last year, Neff found that the amount of dust in the Rockies is five times greater than before the late 19th century.
"This is really the story of the wholesale transformation of the West," Painter said.
Citing evidence that the US Forest Service failed to comply with environmental laws, a federal judge agreed with conservationists concerns and struck down the Salmon-Challis National Forest’s Travel Management Plan, which would have allowed motorized use on hundreds of miles of trails - causing damage to forest resources like clean water, wetlands and wildlife.
DENVER — The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a Utah county may not override federal rules meant to protect wildlife, streams, archeological sites, wilderness and monuments by relying on unproven highway rights of way.
For decades Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine area just south of Glacier National Park was the home of rampant off-roading that gradually carved up the forest’s phenomenal wild lands. Now with the help of local citizens who live along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and our partners at Earthjustice, we’ve defeated an attempt to overturn a Forest Service plan to protect the Badger-Two Medicine from such damage.
Our National Forests are as diverse in nature as they are in geography. Some offer the most pristine settings in the nation, while others sit close to urban centers, and everything in between. There are 36 million acres of designated Wilderness lands in our national forests — including places as iconic as the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness in Colorado. These places are wild and remote, and will always be that way because they are formally designated as Wilderness by Congress.
The Rico-West Dolores landscape, located within the breathtaking San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado, is a popular retreat for hikers, horseback riders, wildlife viewers, and other quiet recreationists.
In 2009 you helped us begin to tear down the destructive environmental legacy of the Bush administration. Our members and supporters sent more than 1 million letters to decision makers, while our staff worked closely with the incoming administration and Congress.