Wilderness: 50 Years and Counting

On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America's support for wilderness, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines "Wilderness" as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain.

The NWPS was established for the use and enjoyment of the American people and provides many direct and in-direct benefits, such as those relating to ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic, spiritual, economic, recreational, historical, and cultural uses and activities. The 757 wilderness areas within the NWPS are managed by all four federal land managing agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. To learn more about the Wilderness Act and the NWPS, visit http://www.wilderness.net, the official wilderness information website providing both general information about wilderness and specific information about each of the 757 wilderness areas.

In 2014, our nation will celebrate "50 Years of Wilderness" and this website has been created to document this historical commemoration honoring America's "True American Legacy of Wilderness." A national team, called Wilderness50, has been created to plan educational events, projects, programs, and products to raise awareness of wilderness during the 50th anniversary year. This website provides a map and listing of all local, regional, and national 50th anniversary events that are occurring nation-wide, including the National Wilderness Conference. It also provides access to resources for individuals or community groups interested in hosting a 50th anniversary event.