A Wilderness Celebration
Have you been thinking it might be time for a wild party? You’re in luck because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a forward-thinking law that created a way for Americans to protect our most pristine wildlands for future generations.
Wilderness is not unique to the United States. But, through the Wilderness Act, we have taken a proactive approach to preserving some of the best examples of the American landscape. Today, so much of our planet is domesticated—we’ve created great cities, built railroads, highways and bridges to connect vast areas, and transformed much of our native landscapes into farm and ranch land to feed a growing population. Wilderness areas are untamed wildlands where nature still reigns and people are visitors—where natural systems, forests, rivers, and wild animals have a place. In wilderness, nature is in charge.
What is Wilderness?
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law on September 3, 1964 after sixty drafts and over eight years of work. On signing the act, Johnson made the following statement: “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
This law defined wilderness in the United States and created a formal mechanism for designating new wilderness areas. It defined Wilderness as an area “where the earth and its community of life are untram- meled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Why Do We Need Wilderness?
Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betray- ing the principle of civiliza- tion itself. — Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Wilderness provides enormous benefits to society. Recreation, clean water, and beautiful scenery are all valued by our society and offer great economic benefits to communities that are adjacent to wilderness areas. Wilderness is a place where nature is relatively undisturbed, where people can get away from the hustle and bustle of modern society and connect with something deeper.
But what is more important is that wilderness offers something more than just its value to humanity. In wilderness is the essence of all life; it is where complex biological systems continue to function in ways that humans are only beginning to understand. Saving the remaining pieces of wild nature is part of our duty to ourselves, our children, and for all life on the planet.
Time to Celebrate
KS Wild invites you to join us in celebrating wilderness this year. We will keep you informed about events this fall where you can celebrate wild nature. Even as we enjoy the wilderness that has already been designated, KS Wild is working hard to ensure the protection of new wilderness in the future.
Due to its steep, rugged terrain and distance from big cities, the Klamath-Siskiyou is home to some of the most spectacular designated wilderness areas and wilderness quality landscapes. The value of the Klamath-Siskiyou wilderness landscape is immeasurable. KS Wild’s work to protect this region and advocate for the designation of more wilderness is a core part of what we do every day. Join us.
“Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on?” — Margaret Murie