45th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

America’s Wilderness Turns 45
President Obama Declares September 2009 National Wilderness Month

Today marks the 45th anniversary of a conservation landmark — the Wilderness Act. Signed into law on September 3, 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson, this historic legislation has been used by citizens from coast to coast over those years to guarantee that future generations will be able to use and enjoy our nation’s wonderfully diverse wilderness areas. The first national treasure that gained immediate protection was New Mexico’s own Gila Wilderness.

President Barack Obama also proclaimed September 2009 as National Wilderness Month today. In a press release from the White House, the President stated:

"I call upon 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."

Currently, the National Wilderness Preservation System is 109 million acres strong.  Yet that remains less than five percent of America’s land mass.  And when Americans lose 6,000 acres of open space everyday, there is still much to be done.

Here in New Mexico, the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is working to protect over 2 million acres as wilderness so that future generations will be able to enjoy our natural wonders.

“New Mexico is the birthplace of wilderness and we are actively working to ensure that this gold standard of protection is applied to many other unique areas in our state,” said Nathan Newcomer of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “With the establishment of September 2009 as National Wilderness Month, President Barack Obama is sending a message that the preservation of wilderness is an important part of his administration."

Protected wilderness in America provides clean air, clean water, recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing, habitat for wildlife, and spiritual wellbeing for those who visit or simply appreciate knowing such wild places still exist.

Recognizing the importance of the Wilderness Act to our nation, the U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution commemorating the 45th Anniversary of this groundbreaking measure.  The resolution boasts that the Senate “recognizes and commends the extraordinary work of the individuals and organizations involved in building the National Wilderness Preservation System; and is grateful for the wilderness, a tremendous asset the United States continues to preserve as a gift to future generations of the United States.”