America's Wilderness Forever! The Wilderness Society Turns 76

Hikers at Glacier Bay, Alaska

A big thank you to all wilderness lovers, who have helped us reach another anniversary and another year of protection work for the nation’s most cherished wild lands.

Since our creation on Jan. 21, 1935, we have grown into the nation’s largest and most effective public lands conservation organization in the nation. But as we turn 76, the threats to our public wild lands just keep coming. Now in addition to deforestation, habitat fragmentation, air and water pollution, and general overuse of sensitive areas, we also have the modern threats of abusive off-road vehicle use and climate change threatening our public lands.

The public lands we’re talking about include the majestic forests and rushing rivers within our National Forests, the breathtaking and diverse scenery of our National Parks, the tranquil havens provided by our National Fish and Wildlife Refuges and the iconic landscapes of the American West that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  They are lands that belong to all Americans, as well as future Americans, but sadly they have too often been treated with the nation’s industrial interests first in mind.

The good news on this 76th anniversary is that through working together we’ve been able to defend and protect so many of these prized places, even in the face of formidable challenge.

While the threats persist, we know we can prevail so that America’s wilderness lives forever. 

Here’s a little inspiration for all of you supporters out there:

  • In the past decade, despite pressure from timber and other extractive industry, The Wilderness Society has kept development and logging out of nearly 58 million acres of the nation’s wildest forest lands, also known as roadless forests.
  • Despite unrelenting attempts to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to destructive oil drilling, we’ve held the line year after year. Now we’re pushing for lasting Wilderness protections in the coastal plain of this crown jewel of the refuge system.
  • We’ve been a major if not leading force in just about every new Wilderness area designation since the National Wilderness Preservation System was created in 1964. We’ve gained the government’s highest form of protection for many of the gorgeous mountain, forest, and desert lands that Americans play, relax and reflect in (places that also hold great public health and ecosystem value). Most recently, we gained lasting protections for more than 2.1 million acres of special lands across the country, including including Idaho’s amazing Owyhee Canyonlands, portions of Utah’s Zion National Park and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park to name a few.
  • We’ve helped reduce rampant snowmobiling at Yellowstone National Park drastically and reduced abusive off-roading in our National Forests, a struggle that still continues.
  • Most recently, we succeeded in pressuring the administration to roll back many environmentally destructive Bush-era policies.  For example, we helped achieve major reforms to the way the Bureau of Lands Management  leases our public lands to oil companies.

This is just a tiny sampling of what we’ve achieved in the past 76 years, and we could not have done it without the help of our supporters, which include members, donors and Wildalert subscribers.  Have no doubt that concerned people like yourself are making a difference everyday in the struggle to save our natural heritage.

If you’re one of the wilderness champions who have supported our work, pat yourself on the back for all you’ve helped achieve. If you’re new to our site, we welcome you and invite you to join us as we continue to protect America’s wilderness