Happy Anniversary, Wilderness Act!
On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act to protect and preserve America’s wilderness heritage in perpetuity. On that day the United States gained 9.1 million acres of designated wilderness.
On September 3, 2009 - 45 years after the initial signing - President Barack Obama declared September 2009 as National Wilderness Month celebrating the National Wilderness Preservation System which now includes 756 individual units and totals nearly 110,000,000 acres.
We Washingtonians are amazingly fortunate to have a wealth of wilderness lands to explore. There were three Washington wilderness areas originally designated in 1964; Glacier Peak Wilderness, Mt. Adams Wilderness, and the Goat Rocks Wilderness. There are now 31 Wilderness Areas in Washington, including some of my favorites; Tatoosh Wilderness for its showy flower display in July, Wonder Mountain Wilderness for its sheer difficulty of travel and unsurpassed solitude, and Wenaha-Tucannon because it’s off the beaten path and has abundant wildlife.
I’ve spent most of my adult life working in and around Wilderness Areas – often behind the scenes – hoping to make a difference in the stewardship of these precious areas. I feel a small sense of delight that the value of Wilderness has been recognized by the Obama Administration --a feat accomplished in no small part by the hard work of Doug Scott, Policy Director for the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. I’m just sure of it. Thanks Doug.