Keeping the Wilderness Wild

Rocky Mountain Front Proposed Wilderness. Day breaks on the Front Range in Montana. The mountains and plains in this region shelter a rich collection of plants and wildlife, including grizzly bears.

Fifty years ago President Johnson signed the federal Wilderness Protection Act to preserve a “glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning.”  New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert talks about its creation and whether it has met its objectives to protect the country’s most pristine wildlands for future generations. She’s written the article “50 Years of Wilderness,” in the September issue of National Geographic magazine.

New Mexico’s Gila National Forest national geographic

Gila Wilderness. This was the precursor: Forty years before the Wilderness Act, 755,000 acres in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, including the Middle Fork of the Gila River, became the world’s first designated wilderness. From the September 2014 issue of National Geographic. © Michael Melford/National Geographic.

 San Juan Islands, Washington

San Juan Islands. Patos Island, Washington, is part of a thousand-acre national monument created last year by President Barack Obama. Wilderness, a higher form of land protection, covers 350 acres of the San Juans—but only Congress can designate a wilderness. From the September 2014 issue of National Geographic. © Michael Melford/National Geographic.

 

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Soaptree yuccas soak up morning light in southern New Mexico. Soaptree yuccas soak up morning light in southern New Mexico. “I am not finished,” the president said in May, as he created this newest national monument. “I’m searching for more opportunities.” From the September 2014 issue of National Geographic. © Michael Melford/National Geographic.

 

Rocky Mountain Front Proposed Wilderness. Day breaks on the Front Range in Montana. The mountains and plains in this region shelter a rich collection of plants and wildlife, including grizzly bears.
Rocky Mountain Front Proposed Wilderness. Day breaks on the Front Range in Montana. The mountains and plains in this region shelter a rich collection of plants and wildlife, including grizzly bears. From the September 2014 issue of National Geographic. © Michael Melford/National Geographic.
September 2014 National Geographic
September 2014 National Geographic