You may be wondering why even this modest amount of ink should be spilt in recognition of some random piece of legislation like the Wilderness Act, and the answer is simple: Without the wilderness, there would be no balance against the inevitable sprawl of the concrete jungle.Some people might exclaim that they don’t go hiking and that camping is gross, but deep down even these folks are comforted by the beauty – nay, the very presence! – of our natural wonders.A Little Wilderness Act History
The Wilderness Act was signed into law on September 3, 1964, by then President Lyndon B. Johnson, and it currently safeguards nearly 110 million
acres of wilderness. And, if you’re curious, “wilderness” – as defined in the Act – is an area that may not be logged or mined and may not be burdened with any roads or permanent structures of any kind.This encapsulates the power and spectacle of the Wilderness Act, although it’s a little dry. While it truly is one of the most powerful pieces of environmental legislation ever written into law, Woody Guthrie summed it up best (by accident):This land is your land / this land is my landfrom California / to the New York island;from the redwood forest / to the Gulf Stream waters,this land was made for you and me.
That’s what it’s really
all about.Why Wilderness Matters
Yes, there is the hiking, camping, fishing, animal watching, stargazing and general awesomeness that comes with being out in the wilderness, but these things are actually the least important attributes of wilderness areas.The wilderness is at once a buffer against and a catalyst for humanity itself. Wilderness supports the species by filtering our air and water, safeguarding watersheds and protecting the wildlife we need to support our ecosystem, but it also checks us; reminds us to be humble in the face of nature.What You Can Do
This one is easy: Support your wild spaces
by visiting them and enjoying all the amazing things they have to offer. And, if you’re not into hiking and camping
, that’s cool – you can appreciate them from a distance every time you drink a glass of water or take a breath of fresh air.Happy 50th anniversary, Wilderness Act!