Wilderness Timeline

Since opening its doors in 1935, The Wilderness Society has worked to protect the millions of acres of public lands that all Americans own.

The Wilderness Society has contributed to historic moments in the national conservation movement, helping to pass dozens of wilderness bills. Our work was instrumental in passing the 1964 Wilderness Act, which establish the National Wilderness Preservation System. 

Over the years, we have turned back both industrial and ideological attacks on our most iconic wild spaces. We’ve gone toe-to-toe with high-priced lobbyists on the Arctic Refuge, on mining the Grand Canyon and other massive land grabs — and we have won.

To this day, The Wilderness Society and our supporters remain at the forefront of efforts to protect America’s wild lands and wildlife. Protecting wilderness and inspiring Americans to care for wild places is central to our work


  • 1935 - Wilderness Society founded
  • 1964 - Wilderness Act passed
  • 1968 - Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and National Trails System Act passed
  • 1976 - National Forest Management Act passed
  • 1980 - Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act passed
  • 1990 - Tongass Timber Reform Act passed
  • 1994 - California Desert Protection Act passed
  • 1997 - National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act passed
  • 2009 - Public Lands Omnibus Act, one of the largest expansions of the Wilderness System in recent years. 
  • 2014 - 50th Anniversary year of The Wilderness Act









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