As you may know from last week’s announcement of President Barak Obama’s Proclamation commemorating of the 45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, September is National Wilderness Month.
Below are statements of support for the Proclamation from the Secretaries of Interior (Ken Salazar) and Agriculture (Tom Vilsack).
The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness hopes you’ll join us in celebrating National Wilderness Month! Become a Friend and join us on one of our Guided Hikes. Come see for yourself this beautiful pristine area that we are working hard to preserve for all of us through our efforts to achieve official Wilderness designation.
Be sure to read the “Extra Feature – Celebrate National Wilderness Month!” from Campaign for America’s Wilderness
And if you’re interested you can read the History of Wilderness Progress – a time line of wilderness legislation.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined President Obama in commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System by President Lyndon Johnson on Sept. 3, 1964.
“The creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System is one of the greatest events in the history of American conservation,” said Salazar, who oversees 73 million of the 109 million acres of designated wilderness in the United States. “These pristine places that are set aside to be forever wild and untouched inspire us and remind us of the bounty with which our nation is blessed in the beauty and richness of our land.”
Wilderness areas are areas of undeveloped federal land that retain their primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which are protected and managed to preserve their natural conditions. Uses of these lands are generally restricted to non-motorized activities such as hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and other non-invasive activities.
In March, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 into law. This law designates 52 new wilderness areas and adds acreage to 26 existing areas, a total addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System of more than 2 million acres.
In an official proclamation issued today, the President declared: “The Wilderness Act is widely recognized as one of this nation’s most important conservation laws. This law and the National Wilderness Preservation System it established have served as a model for similar wilderness protection laws in a number of our States and in nations around the globe.”
The 762 wilderness areas in the United States range in size from the 5-acre Rocks and Islands Wilderness in California to Wrangell-Saint Elias Wilderness in Alaska, which is more than 9 million acres.
Within the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service manages 43.9 million acres, the Fish and Wildlife Service manages 20.7 million acres, and the Bureau of Land Management oversees 8.7 million acres. The Department of Agriculture’s National Forest Service manages 36.2 million acres of wilderness.
All but six states have designated wilderness areas. Alaska has the most wilderness acres — 57.5 million – followed by California with 14.9 million.
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AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK JOINS PRESIDENT OBAMA IN MARKING 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WILDERNESS ACT
Landmark legislation created framework that now protects over 109 million acres of wilderness around the country
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2009 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined President Barack Obama in marking the 45th anniversary of the landmark Wilderness Act. President Obama signed a proclamation this week designating September as National Wilderness Month and calling on “all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, learn more about our wilderness heritage, and explore what can be done to protect and preserve these precious national treasures.”
“As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we recognize that a healthy and prosperous America relies on the health of our wilderness areas,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Our National Forest Wilderness Areas are a national inheritance that not only help generate rural wealth through recreation and tourism, but also supply communities with clean water, shelter wildlife, and help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
The U.S. Forest Service, one of the four federal agencies administering the National Wilderness Preservation System, oversees over 36 million acres of Wilderness, which comprise roughly 19% of the entire National Forest System. The National Wilderness Preservation System, which 45 years ago started with a little over 9 million acres, has grown tenfold over this period.
Tom Tidwell, Chief of the US Forest Service, who administers almost 60% of the 756 areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System, said, “The Wilderness Act of 1964 and subsequent congressional designations, represent collaboration of citizens, agencies and Congress to preserve wild, undeveloped places for the benefit of current and future generations.” Chief Tidwell added, “Wilderness Areas offer an immense variety of natural, scenic, historical, and cultural settings. During this month, we will give special emphasis to stewardship of our 440 National Forest Wilderness Areas. The Forest Service is committed to quality resource management of our wilderness areas including the completion of many projects through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Efforts like the work of AmeriCorps and many other youth and partner organizations play an important role in the care and protection of these special places.”
2009 was a banner year for Wilderness, with over 2 million acres added to the National Wilderness Preservation System through the Omnibus Lands Act of 2009, bringing the total system acreage to over 109 million.