Establishing the System
Development vs. Environment Protection
There is wilderness and then there is Wilderness. According to the dictionary, wilderness is any uncultivated and uninhabited tract of land. Wilderness with a capital “W,” on the other hand, is something more. Some 82.3 million acres in the United States—about 3.5 percent of the total land area in the nation—are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, which means they are protected from development. Under the terms of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which President Johnson signed into law 20 years ago on Sept. 3, 1964, no roads, dams or permanent structures may be built on these government-owned lands; motorized vehicles are forbidden; no timber may be cut. Lands in the wilderness system must be “administered for the ...