Happy 50th Anniversary, Wilderness Act! This exciting milestone has been celebrated all year long, but today officially marks the date on which the Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Thanks to the foresight of many determined people fighting for this Act fifty years ago, 110 million acres of the United States are now protected as wilderness -- areas where "man is a visitor who does not remain". These protected areas provide crucial wildlife habitat, ecosystem services, recreational opportunities, and of course, a means to connect with the raw, wild beauty and serenity of nature which our daily lives tend to lack.
Many of the wilderness areas in the United States also lie within National Parks. Check out your Nature Nerd Wednesday video below, featuring gorgeous scenery and seriously adorable wildlife from the wilderness in North Cascades National Park right here in Washington State:
Even experienced through a computer screen, the unspoiled beauty of wilderness leaves me with a full heart and calm mind -- feeling grateful that the Wilderness Act has protected some of the most stunning natural spaces in the country. It is completely abhorrent to think of those forested slopes left denuded by logging, the verdant valleys run through with freeways or dammed and flooded, the clear lakes and rivers clogged with silt and mining waste, or luxury resorts and vacation homes clinging to the mountainsides. However, had it not been for the thoughtful protection of these public lands, any of those scenarios could have potentially become reality.
Here's to the next fifty years of the Wilderness Act, and to the (hopefully) numerous new wilderness areas that will be created in that time!
Check out Wilderness.net to find a wilderness area near you. (Did you know Washington State has 31 wilderness areas?? I have some exploring to do!)