Washington, D.C. - November 6, 2013 - September 2014 will mark 50 years since the passage of the Wilderness Act-one of America's most successful and enduring pieces of conservation legislation. To celebrate this milestone, Wilderness50, Nature's Best Photography, and the Smithsonian Institution will showcase an exhibit of juried photography highlighting the beauty, diversity, and longevity of America's wilderness. The exhibit, titled "Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America's Wild Places" will open in September 2014 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Winning photographs will be chosen from among thousands of public entries submitted nationwide. The images will be displayed as large - format prints in the nation's most - visited museum, which welcomes more than 8 million visitors each year.
"Photography delivers immediate and long-lasting impact. What better way to celebrate the beauty of our natural heritage than through the eyes of the public and their shared experiences in our wilderness areas?," said Steve Freligh, Nature's Best Photography editor-in-chief and a "Wilderness Forever" competition judge.
Charles Chen, an exhibit developer at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said the exhibit will educate visitors about the importance of preserving wilderness areas by showing them the nation's wildest places as seen through its citizens' eyes.
"We're very excited to share the public's own visions of America's beautiful wilderness lands," he said.
The Wilderness Act, passed in September 1964, created the legal definition of "wilderness" in the United States and set aside more than 9 million acres of federal land to be forever protected from development. Since then, the number of protected acres has grown to nearly 110 million. The "Wilderness Forever" exhibit will serve as a centerpiece of celebrations across the country in 2014 commemorating the establishment of the National Wilderness Preservation System and bringing together the voices of ordinary Americans to celebrate these special places.
Wilderness50, Nature's Best Photography and the Smithsonian are still actively seeking wilderness stories from the public. Do you have a magic moment or memory of wilderness to share? Why is preserving America's wild places important to you? Have you visited a National Wilderness Preservation System area? Selected stories will be featured in the Smithsonian exhibit and online. To learn more and to submit your story, email Lisa Ronald, Wilderness50 Communications Coordinator.
Wilderness50 is a coalition of more than 25 non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies that is planning and implementing local, regional, and national events and projects. This coalition is charged with raising public awareness of wilderness and engaging youth during 2014, the 50th anniversary year. Our nation's wilderness system, now encompassing over 109 million acres, was established in 1964 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 that exist today are managed by all four federal land managing agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service.
Contact: Lisa Ronald (Eidson)
Wilderness50 Communications Coordinator