Wilderness Act 50th anniversary celebrated by Interior Secretary Jewell at New Jersey’s Great Swamp

The Wilderness Society Senior Director of Government Relations for Lands Alan Rowsome (left), The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams (center) and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (right) at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Credit: The Wilderness Society

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on Sept. 3 in a ceremony at New Jersey’s Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Secretary Jewell spoke at the event, joining The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ), among other guests.

You can watch a video of the ceremony here:

In addition to saluting the Wilderness Act, which was used to protect a tract of especially wild land within the refuge in 1968, Secretary Jewell and others also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge was an apt site for the celebration. As well as being a great example of  the importance of preserved wildlands near to a thriving urban area, it contains the first wilderness area ever protected on Department of the Interior lands and only the third wilderness area designated east of the Mississippi River.  Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars have also been utilized to enhance and grow the refuge in the years since the wilderness was designated.

Despite its close proximity to New York City, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge contains habitat for a variety of wildlife. Credit: Dave Sagan (USFWS), flickr.

Within easy driving distance of New York City, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness protects habitat for otters, foxes, white-tailed deer, migratory birds, bog turtles, salamanders and more. The array of plant life on display is similarly impressive, including viburnum, trillium, starflower, geranium, ginger and iris in the spring; swamp honeysuckle, fringed orchid and evening primrose in the summer; and aster, goldenrod and gerardia in the autumn.

All of this makes the wilderness a popular getaway for city-dwellers, who can walk eight miles of peaceful trails in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Learn more about the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary

Learn about other eastern wilderness areas