You only have to look at wilderness to understand why it’s worth saving. The natural beauty of rugged, untamed mountains, forests and waterways is one of America’s greatest assets. It’s a gift passed down to us from our parents and grandparents. And it’s one we need to give our kids and grandkids.
But that’s only part of the reason why wilderness matters. Wilderness offers unparalleled solitude and an escape from the busy modern world. It has proven health benefits with opportunities for hiking, hunting, fishing and mental restoration. Untouched wilderness also protects the water resources, native plants and animals and cultural resources within them.
What is a wilderness area?
It is public land protected under the 1964 National Wilderness Preservation System.
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his 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.”1964 Wilderness Act
Wilderness brings the highest level of protection available for public lands and their natural landscape. These are places where nature operates on its own with almost zero disturbance. There are no roads, no motors or mechanical devices, or development of any kind. The core idea behind Wilderness is placing value on our country’s wildest places precisely because they’re wild.
Sportsmen will tell you that wilderness areas are often the very best places to hunt and fish — because elk, deer, and fish don’t like to be disturbed either. You can camp, climb, hike, and paddle in wilderness. There is a spiritual concept as well — preserving places where people can go to find solitude and escape the noise of civilization.