On this day 57 years ago, Congress established the Wilderness Act in 1964. Congress wanted to protect undeveloped and wild areas as an enduring resource for the American people. Today, this act protects 111 million acres of wilderness preserving more than 800 wilderness areas in states from Alaska to Florida.
This act created the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and immediately designated 54 areas into this system. Some of the first wilderness areas created included Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming, Ansel Adams Wilderness in California, and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Today, the National Park Service makes up about 56% of the land under NWPS with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management areas making up the rest.
Many benefits exist today from this land conservation including providing habitats for wildlife; clean air; clean drinking water; boosting local economies with tourism and recreation; and providing some really amazing places to escape and appreciate this great land here!
Fun fact: The largest wilderness area in the National Wilderness Preservation System is the Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness, protecting more than nine million acres of Alaskan tundra and boreal forest.
Enjoy this anniversary and get out in the wilderness today!