"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."
So stated President Lyndon B. Johnson as The Wilderness Act was signed into law on September 3, 1964, following 60 drafts authored primarily by Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society and eight years of diligent effort.
The Wilderness Act, which legally defined wilderness in the United States, initially protected 9.1 million acres of federal land under the National Wilderness Preservation System. Fifty years later, the NWPS includes 758 areas totaling approximately 110 million acres in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
In its simple elegance, the definition of wilderness as set down in The Wilderness Act, framed our country’s approach to protecting its most precious wild places:
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
What will you do to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act on Wednesday, September 3rd? Where will you gain your glimpse of wilderness?