50 Years of the Wilderness Act

keeping in wildFifty years ago on September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. This established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and designated 9.1 million acres of wildlands for preservation. In the last 50 years, Congress has added an additional 100 million acres to the System.

Lyndon Johnson signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 (nps.gov)

Lyndon Johnson signing the Wilderness Act of 1964 (nps.gov)

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 the University of Montana’s wilderness.net.

The Wilderness Institute, sponsored by numerous Federal agencies, organizations, and individuals, has planned a wide array of events and projects to commemorate this historic legislation. Check it out here.

The U.S. Government Printing Office offers access to an extensive variety of publications and resources related to the Wilderness Act.

We’ll start with the U.S. Government Bookstore. Interesting publications can be found grouped by agency here:

001-001-00686-6Of particular interest to this topic is a publication from the U.S. Forest Service: Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Fire and Nonnative Invasive Plants. This 16-chapter publication was designed to help increase understanding of plant invasions and fire. The nonnative invasive species that pose the greatest threat for fires are described in detail. Also detailed are the emerging fire-invasive issues in each bioregion through the United States. This publication is the perfect resource for fire management and ecosystem-based management planning.

001-000-04738-8Another publication from the Forest Service, How a Tree Grows, describes the science of how leaves, roots, trunks, soil, and more work together to grow a tree.

024-001-03629-1Also an interesting publication related to this topic is Malheur’s Legacy: Celebrating a Century of Conservation, 1908-2008, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Southeast Oregon. This book tells the story of this Refuge’s first hundred years, as well as the story of the Native Americans who first inhabited the land, the early European settlers, how Theodore Roosevelt established it as a bird refuge, and the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. This amazing wildlife refuge is home to 320 species of birds and 58 mammal species. You’ll also want to check out the National Wildlife Refuge System: A Visitor’s Guide. It contains a map showing national wildlife refuges that provide recreational and educational opportunities and provides tips for visiting national wildlife refuges. The publication also lists refuges in all 50 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and describes the best wildlife viewing season and features of each refuge.024-010-00724-9

For access to more Wilderness Act resources, you can visit GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).

Through the CGP, you can access the U.S. Forest Service’s report, Keeping it Wild: an Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character across the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Interagency Wilderness Character Monitoring Team—representing the

Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management, DOI Fish and Wildlife Service, DOI National Park Service, DOI U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Forest Service—offers in this document an interagency strategy to monitor trends in wilderness character across the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Also accessible through the CGP is The National Atlas of the United States of America. National Wilderness Preservation System, from the U.S. Geological Survey. This map of the National Wilderness Preservation System for the United States shows all designated Wilderness areas, and the color of each area depicts which of the Federal agencies administers the Wilderness. In addition to the map, insets on the front side show wilderness photos, a summary of the wilderness legacy, and quotes from citizens about what wilderness means to them. The back side of the map provides general information about the wilderness system in text, images, and sketches. In addition, a table lists acreage, year of establishment, and administrative information for each Wilderness.

GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) also offers resources related to the Wilderness Act:

You can also visit a Federal depository library near you to discover what other publications the Federal Government has to offer on the Wilderness Act, the NWPS, wildlife, and much more. Locations are nationwide. Find the Federal depository nearest you by visiting the Federal Depository Library Directory.

Cheers to the great American treasure that is the National Wilderness Preservation System! Happy 50th, and here’s to many more.


In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Library Program.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: