This year the the Wilderness Act turns fifty years old. Created in 1964 by Congress the act established massive tracts of wild areas across the country as protected lands. The Wilderness act was designed to preserve the nations wild areas for recreation and habitat, rather than for resource extraction, an important distinction between public lands today. Across the country more than 100 million acres of land are protected under the act. In Oregon, less than four percent of our roadless areas are included in this protection. In fact, Oregon ranks behind both Washington and Idaho in the designation of wilderness lands, a fact that stands in stark contrast to our "green" image and con only bring trouble for a state betting it's economy on a newly minted ecotourism industry.
Now, in the good weather, as we all step outside, is as good a time as any to reevaluate our commitment to the conscious preservation of wild areas. What is your favorite unprotected wilderness area? Why should it be a part of the wilderness act?
Photograph of the Eagle Cap wilderness area, Oregon courtesy of the National Forest Service