Wilderness is a priority in all of EcoFlight’s work, not only to grow our existing wilderness lands but also to protect the landscapes adjacent to wilderness so that the ecological integrity of existing roadless areas is preserved and wildlife corridors are kept intact. Wilderness plays a significant role in the overall health of ecosystems. Millions of birds use wilderness areas as nesting and wintering grounds, as well as resting places when migrating. Animals, such as lynx, wolf, bear, moose and elk make their homes in, and migrate through areas that are protected as wilderness. Wilderness provides us with clean water and air, and multiple places to hunt, fish, camp and hike. Wilderness is part of what has helped to shape our unique American character, and the protection of these wildest places is one of America’s defining legacies. Wilderness is a priceless resource and it belongs to every American citizen. EcoFlight has worked with conservation partners to fly public officials, wilderness advocates, ranchers, motorized users and mountain bikers over existing and proposed wilderness areas to give them and the greater public the aerial perspective of these landscapes.
The Wilderness Act:
This year, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wild lands 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 an area “...affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable...where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain...”
The National Wilderness Preservation System:
The NWPS was established for the use and enjoyment of the American people and provides many direct and indirect benefits, as diverse and storied as 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.
About the 50th Celebration:
The 50th Celebration is shaping up to be the most significant event in the history of Wilderness designation and management. Our conservation partners are all excited to be celebrating this occasion in many different ways. For more information on celebrations and information please visit www.wilderness50th.org
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