National Wilderness Month Proclamation by President Obama Marks 50-Year Milestone for the Wilderness Act

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Signed into law 50 years ago, the Wilderness Act safeguards wild public lands that provide clean water, serene sanctuaries for wildlife and humans alike, and billions in outdoor recreation spending for local communities, reports a statement from The Wilderness Society.

"Today we need wilderness more than ever." - Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society thanks President Obama for his proclamation declaring September 2014 as National Wilderness Month in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

The Wilderness Act marked the beginning of an era in which the American people are empowered by Congress to propose protection of special wild places, watersheds, wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. The law immediately set aside approximately nine million acres of U.S. national forests as wilderness, defining the highest level of protection, uses and enjoyment of these federal lands. Today the National Wilderness Preservation System encompasses nearly 110 million acres of wild country in 44 states and includes lands in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management areas.

“Today we need wilderness more than ever,” says Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society, which was founded in 1935 to advocate for protection of America’s roadless wild places. “In an urban nation, we need a place to get away, to enjoy and restore ourselves. The people who wrote the Wilderness Act called it an essential human need, and that’s why they wrote the Wilderness Act – to protect wild places for all of us, and for our quality of life. There’s one constant since the Wilderness Act was passed – people want to protect more of our wild places, which define us as a nation. They are our American legacy, something we can leave to future generations.”

The Wilderness Society issued a publication that outlines the history of the Wilderness Act and describes the benefits of wilderness – which protects watersheds that supply clean water, provides essential wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and supports the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.

More than two dozen popular, locally supported wilderness bills have been introduced in Congress and are awaiting action — bills to protect drinking water supplies in Colorado and Tennessee, premier wildlife habitat in Montana and Washington, and outstanding recreation destinations in Idaho and Maine. These measures are broadly supported by a variety of American voices, including veterans, business owners, cultural and religious leaders, sportsmen and women, timber companies, motorized users, and military groups. During Wilderness Week, September 15-17, advocates will be in Washington DC to urge Congress to protect more of America’s wild lands.


The Wilderness Society is the leading wild public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.

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Michael Reinemer