America’s Protected Wilderness Turns 40
Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the Wilderness Act – a monumental piece of American legislation that protected much of the nation's wild and special places. There are now some 662 federal wilderness areas, covering some 106 million acres across 44 states. Not only do these areas provide wildlife habitat, recreation and clean water; they also are major component of North American continental ecological sustainability. Large contiguous wild natural areas are required to maintain atmospheric, hydrological and terrestrial systems. Yet current designations in North America are not adequate in this regard. This is why it is so important to gain protections for the tens of millions of acres of wilderness quality lands that lack federal protection. America's current leaders threaten what has been a bi-partisan agreement to protect America's wild legacy, with the current Congress having failed to designate one acre of new wilderness. The President is now opening wilderness quality land to gas and oil drilling, and to commercial logging, ostensibly to protect far off communities from wild fires. Large natural areas are more than an amusing amenity; they are the foundation that maintains conditions suitable for life – all life, including yours.