by Emily Hornback, WCC Organizer
On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands 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. Colorado itself contains over 3.5 million acres of wilderness within 41 separate wilderness areas.
WCC has been a tireless campaigner for wilderness in Colorado since the 1980s. Our members worked to create the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (which contains 15,599 acres of wilderness) and the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness within the Dominguez Escalante National Conservation Area. Once established, WCC has worked to safeguard these areas for future generations.
In 2014, as the country celebrates “50 Years of Wilderness,” WCC will join the festivities by honoring the existing wilderness areas we have worked so hard to protect, and by elevating ongoing wilderness campaigns such as the proposed San Juan Wilderness Act.
Championed by the Ridgway Ouray Community Council (ROCC), the San Juan Wilderness Act will protect 61,765 acres of wild lands in southwest Colorado, including the 13,200 acre Whitehouse Addition to the Mt. Sneffels Wilderness.
The proposed expansion has broad community support, and Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet re-introduced the Bill in February 2013. A few months later, the Bill passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
However, we still need US Rep. Scott Tipton to become the House sponsor. Help us harness the momentum of the 50th Anniversary and get the San Juan Wilderness Act introduced in the House!
From hikes to photo exhibits, WCC is planning a series of actions and activities throughout 2014. Stay tuned and join us in this year of celebration and activism for wilderness!
For more information on the 50th Anniversary, visit: http://www.wilderness50th.org/index.php
For more information about WCC’s “Year of Wilderness”, contact Emily Hornback at [email protected] or 970-256.7650.