THE WILDERNESS ACT OF 1964 | Public Law 88-577 ∗ “An Act to Establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the Permanent Good of the Whole People”

The Wilderness Act of 1964
Public Law 88-577
SECTION 2. (a)
“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.”
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Championing a Wilderness Philosophy | Part 15

When the Wilderness Act (PL 88-577) was passed into law in 1964, land developments were a pressing threat that risked the eventual eradication of all wilderness contained within our American borders. While land development continues to threaten the permanent preservation of wilderness today, the legal provisions provided by the Wilderness Act helped sustain the continuance of a few wild ecosystems, in a principally natural and undeveloped state, in our modern age.

The fact that National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) lands remain fundamentally undeveloped in excess of fifty years since the passage of the Wilderness Act is reason for encouragement. Nevertheless, the presence of statutory protections that prohibit future developments on designated NWPS lands, are insufficient. American wilderness continues to face a number of serious threats. As a multitude of factors that threaten to destroy our collective resource of enduring wilderness, have continued to increase in complexity during the modern era.
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Political Responsibility | Part 14

The Wilderness Act (PL 88-577) directed us to consider wilderness as a place where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man”. It should be understood that the complexities involved in maintaining this directive are growing and require a careful path forward to sustain lasting preservation.

The final responsibility for policies upholding statutory protections in support of wilderness, rest at the political level. For this reason, political attacks questioning climate change science, federal land ownership, and established regulations preserving the wildness within the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), threaten to someday unravel a permanently enduring resource of wilderness.
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Legislative Decision Making | Part 13

The title of the Wilderness Act (PL 88-577) described the goal of passing the legislation: “to establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people”. In the Act, Congress also reserved the right to make all final decisions regarding future proposals seeking to modify the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).

The result is an American wilderness system presumed to be held in perpetuum, considering a congressional act of repeal would be required to undo the protections mandated by the Wilderness Act.
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The American Public’s Stake in Wilderness | Part 12

Despite the Wilderness Act being established in excess of fifty years ago, American wildlands are now confronted with a developing quandary. In the interim, ever advancing commercial developments have resulted in fewer roadless regions across the landscape, while an increasing percentage of Americans have become disconnected from experiences in the wild country.

Although it’s true that more land than ever before is now protected as a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), new additions have slowed in recent years. Meanwhile, private commercial interests that desire massive deregulations, have amassed additional political powers and are using these new capacities to advance an agenda that ultimately erodes public acceptance of wilderness values.
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Political Ideology and Legislation | Part 11

A growing number of Americans have reacted to the inundation of increasingly reckless political messages, by defining their affiliation to a political party as a part of their social identity. This oftentimes results in an increased tendency to adamantly reject the policies supported by the opposing party, regardless of the facts inherent to the issues at hand.

These developments should be of concern to individuals worried about environmental protection, the future of public lands, wilderness preservation, or various other topics being debated within the political arena…
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Wilderness Stewardship in the Anthropocene | Part 10

There isn’t any doubt about the scientific evidence; human activities are fundamentally altering the earth since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

Although the pursuit of scientific evidence is not a political act, there are various American politicians that seek to discredit the knowledge cultivated through scientific inquiry, for political reasons. Notably, this fact is apparent when the knowledge gained would lead to the institution of new policies restricting the profits of polluter’s and various other corporate factions that produce toxic ecological consequences through economic activities that place the value of individual profit, over a healthy life on planet earth for all.
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Science and Land Use Policy | Part 9

Science and conclusions determined through evidence based approaches are essential to the act of composing and executing ethical land use policies. Today, the entirety of the ecosystem found on earth holds over seven billion members of the human species.

Meanwhile, numerous other species have declined in population as humans compete for an increasingly limited number of resources. In considering the context, it is alarming to realize that the existing scientific consensus has concluded that the earth has already entered a new era of unparalleled rates in species extinction.
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Wilderness Act Objectives | Part 8

The primary author of the Wilderness Act, Howard Zahniser once said “We must always remember, that the essential quality of wilderness is wildness”. The concept being that wilderness is a region in which nature retains the primary capacity to arise the forces of selection that cause landscapes and ecosystems to evolve. This definition requires a complicated examination of wilderness management strategies in an attempt to properly address the values of wilderness stewardship that have been laid out by the Wilderness Act of 1964.
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Wilderness Values | Part 7

In consideration of wilderness values, Americans established the National Wilderness Preservation System, allowing for the course of wild plant and animal life to continue unimpeded within the confines of those lands designated.

On a fundamental level the conservation of plant and animal biodiversity is linked with wilderness designation in the United States. Numerous species continue to inhabit regions of North America today, only because Americans have made a willful effort to prevent the destruction of the habitat in which they live, breath, sleep, and eat, amongst.
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The Wilderness Idea | Part 6

The wilderness idea rose from an individual, and then subsequently collective human idea that observed the natural world and witnessed extraordinary beauties and values. Likewise, also having an understanding that the ambitions of modern humanity were also set on course to eventually eliminate all wilderness like regions, and thus, all the natural beauty on the earth…

Eventually this led to the Wilderness Idea, or the concept that we must preserve some of the land space on earth in a natural and ecologically intact condition. Lands free from the interference of modern human ambitions, tools, structures, and alterations.
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Political Polarization | Part 5

Protections granted to lands preserved within the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), owe their existence to past legislative acts that authorized legal restrictions on what could today be equated to “economic freedoms”. Regrettably, these restrictions are under attack by political ideologues whom consider any policies limiting economic power to be an attack on the free market, and in turn, their interpretation of American liberty.

The principles that support this agenda ultimately promote environmental and land use deregulation, reduced taxation and funding for federal oversight, and other state policies that restrict “economic freedom”. These political positions prioritize the corporate bottom line and advocate for a system of economic growth that is unsustainable.
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Climate Change | Part 4

The human causes of climate change are among the most serious threats to lasting preservation of wild places. Documentable changes in the earth’s climate as a result of carbon emissions cause unnatural modifications to the entire biosphere, including on lands designated as wilderness. Today, all of earth’s living species exist on a planet that no longer contains any place remaining entirely free from modern human influences, or to put it another way, the impacts of industrialization.
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Public Lands Management | Part 3

The United States contains an extensive network of national public lands, which are owned by all U.S. citizens and have been entrusted to the custody of the federal government for permanent safekeeping. To manage our public lands, four major federal agencies have been established to ensure the values of our collectively owned regions are protected for the benefit of our people.

Despite the inherited values bequeathed to Americans through collective ownership of certain lands, various elected political leaders in the United States have recently made efforts to degrade our support for the lasting protection and preservation of our publicly owned lands. Under the guise of federal overreach with concern to the management of our national public lands, various proposals are now being floated that seek to transfer the control of the land, to the respective states in which they’re located within. These proposals in fundamentally unacceptable.
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Wilderness Preservation | Part 2

The idea to leave some lands wild and free, separate from the will and domination of modern humanity, in a permanently protected and natural condition, is fundamentally a human concept. Development of this idea was first realized amid a growing consciousness that human activities and technological innovations had taken on a course that would someday otherwise result in a global environment completely devoid of any sustained wilderness regions.

Permanent protection and preservation for some wild lands and ecosystems, presumably protects multiple values for the human species. Ecological values, social values, cultural values, economic values,, recreational values, health values, economic values, spiritual values, and more… It is also important to consider the ethical value of leaving some space remaining on the earth, for wild creatures to live amongst and inhabit.
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Wilderness… Both a Place and an Idea | Part 1

Humanity has influenced ecosystems for thousands of years. Throughout much of history, humans lived side by side with a plethora of other life forms as one species among the many, making natural impacts within the greater biological community.

While undoubtedly innovative and clever, human-kind only recently developed technologies powerful enough to rapidly alter the sum of every landscape on earth, the whole of the biosphere, including every natural ecosystem on the planet. Despite the amazing ingenuity required for our groundbreaking technological advancements, humanity has been slower to recognize an ethical obligation to defend and preserve the lives and processes of other species found within the greater ecosystem on earth.
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