Wilderness Week brings opportunity to salute 50th, lobby Congress to uphold conservation legacy

Participants of Wilderness Week enjoyed briefings on wilderness from Members of Congress and PEW on opening day.

Jonathan Meyers

On September 15-17, community leaders from across the U.S. descend on Washington, DC, to salute the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and ask Congress to protect more wildlands.

Wilderness Week serves as an opportunity to salute the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in the most appropriate way: by asking Congress to work with renewed determination to conserve our most special landscapes for the sake of future generations.

The Wilderness Act, signed into law in 1964, created the framework we have used to protect public lands at the highest level, and it remains a momentous conservation achievement, having since grown to include nearly 110 million acres.

Every single Congress between 1966 and 2009 designated new wilderness areas, but the anti-wilderness 112th Congress ended the streak. Since then, far too little public land has been protected. As we commemorate the 50th anniversary, we must not forget all the treasured and threatened places still waiting to be protected, from Colorado’s Hermosa Creek Watershed to Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front.

The focus of Wilderness Week is to advocate for these would-be wilderness areas awaiting action in Congress.

Join the Wilderness Week chorus: Ask Congress to pass wilderness bills.

Other events during Wilderness Week will include an award ceremony honoring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM); a reception at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History centered on "Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America's Wild Places," an exhibit of photography highlighting the diversity of lands protected under the Wilderness Act; the screening of a film produced by the Smithsonian Channel that tells the story of American wilderness by highlighting stunning aerial footage; and a panel discussion about the benefits veterans receive from wilderness and what veterans give back to our nation’s public lands.

Stay tuned for more updates on Wilderness Week!