Proclamation reinforces importance of Wilderness

President Bill Meadows

So much has changed since 1964. In many ways, the America of today bears scant resemblance to the America of 45 years ago. There are few corners of our country that have not changed dramatically in the last two generations. Many of the small towns we or our parents grew up in have become cities or suburbs, farmland has given way to strip malls, back roads have become superhighways.

But even in the midst of all this change, there remain wild and wonderful places that are just as unspoiled as they were back then. Many of America’s iconic natural landscapes — from the Florida Everglades to Alaska’s Denali Wilderness — have remained pristine and untrammeled, thanks to the Wilderness Act of 1964, which turns 45 today.

The Wilderness Act should be a lasting source of pride for all Americans. The world had never seen legislation like it: a deliberate and visionary effort to protect from development vast areas of wild places, and to preserve them for the enjoyment of all Americans of every generation. Forty-five years later, the Wilderness Act is alive and kicking; it protects more than 109 million acres of Wilderness on public lands, two million acres of that protected just this year.

But work remains to be done. Wild spaces in places like Alaska, Montana, Washington, Idaho, North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico still need protection.

That’s why we welcome President Obama’s words in his Proclamation today:

United by a common purpose of preserving our precious natural spaces and our wilderness heritage, we will ensure that future generations inherit the unique gift of knowing nature's peace.

I call upon all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, learn more about our wilderness heritage, and explore what can be done to protect and preserve these precious national treasures.

Please use our comment form below to tell us about your wilderness experiences.

Or view our wilderness slide show for a moment’s reflection on America’s wilderness legacy.