Wilderness preservation is an American tradition. From the conservation work of President Teddy Roosevelt to Wilderness legislation in the 1960s, the work to save wild places is centuries old. 

Star Peak Lookout ca. 1915

Modern wilderness advocacy’s first major milestone arrived on Sept. 3, 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act. This sweeping bill protected 9 million acres in 54 wilderness areas. Over the next decade and a half, additional areas were added, with President Jimmy Carter signing landmark protections like the 1978 Endangered American Wilderness Act and 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The latter, preserving 50 million acres of forest and tundra in Alaska, is considered by some the nation’s most ambitious wilderness act. 

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

Wilderness expansion continued throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, with President Ronald Reagan signing more protection laws than any other administration. And despite efforts by President George W. Bush’s administration to open some wild lands for resource extraction, more than a million acres of other lands were protected in various bills. 

While the past decade has been slower for wilderness legislation, the true strength of a movement is in its grassroots support. The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness looks forward to the day when our own wild backyard is added to the list of protected wild lands.

Learn more at Wilderness Connect.

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