Celebrating 50 Years of American Wilderness
On September 3rd we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act and this week, folks in DC are continuing that celebration in the only way we know how: by asking members of Congress to continue to put this legislation to work. Wilderness designation is the pinnacle of landscape conservation; it provides protection into perpetuity. There are still countless landscapes, where wildlife live and thrive, that are under constant attack by those who would rather develop than hunt, fish, hike, or recreate on these largely untouched tracts of lands.
The best way to celebrate this significant anniversary and demonstrate to your elected officials how much you care about protecting America’s wilderness is to get outside and enjoy it! Here are some of our favorite places, found all across the country, where you can do just that. What is your wilderness wonderland?
Sawtooth Wilderness, IdahoEstablished as a Wilderness: August 22, 1972
Wildlife: Mountain goats, elk, mule deer, cougar, black bear, bobcats, coyotes, trout and wolverines
Approximate Size: 217,088 acres
Fun Fact: 50 of the hundreds of peaks in the Sawtooth Mountains are over 10,000 feet high and there are over 400 high alpine lakes that can be found scattered through these mountain peaks.
Breton Wilderness, Louisiana
Established as a Wilderness: January 3, 1975
Wildlife: laughing gulls, royal, Caspian and sandwich terns, nutria, raccoons, and sea turtles
Approximate Size: 5,000 acres
Fun Fact: Breton and Chandeleur Islands, where the Breton Wilderness is located, are less than 300 years old and were created by silt washing down the Mississippi River and accumulating just off the delta.
Saguaro Wilderness, Arizona
Established as a Wilderness: October 20, 1976
Wildlife: Gila woodpeckers, elf owls, pygmy owls, gilded flickers, cactus wren, red-tailed hawks, greater roadrunner, Gila monster, desert spiny lizard, western banded gecko, and desert tortoise
Approximate Size: 70,905 acres
Fun Fact: The Saguaro Cactus, whose flower is Arizona’s state flower, can live up to 170 years, grow to be over 30 feet tall, and weigh 6 to 10 tons.
Great Swamp Wilderness, New Jersey
Established as a Wilderness: September 28, 1968
Wildlife: Mallards, American black duck, green and blue-winged teals, bufflehead, American wigeon, white-tailed deer, red fox, grey squirrel, river otter, and muskrat
Approximate Size: 3,660 acres
Fun Fact: The Great Swamp was created 25,000 years ago when the Wisconsin glacier retreated, leaving this wetlands habitat in its wake.
Great Gulf Wilderness, New Hampshire
Established as a Wilderness: September 3, 1964
Wildlife: Moose, fox, rock vole, and American pitpit
Approximate Size: 5,658 acres
Fun Fact: The Great Gulf Wilderness was one of the original wilderness areas designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Clifty Wilderness, Kentucky
Established as a Wilderness: December 23, 1985
Wildlife: black bears, deer, bobcats, chipmunks, squirrels, elk, fox, shrews, voles, opposums, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, wild turkeys, woodchucks, songbirds, hawks, owls, eagles, bats, vultures, hummingbirds, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, salamanders, and treefrogs.
Approximate Size: 13,379 acres
Fun Fact: The Red River, which bisects the Clifty Wilderness, was designated as a wild and scenic river in 1993.
Agassiz Wilderness, Minnesota
Established as a Wilderness: October 19, 1976
Wildlife: Red-necked Grebe, bufflehead, American Bittern, Moose, Arctic shrew, grey wolf, coyote, fisher, white-tailed deer, river otter, Snowshoe hare, and Eastern red bat
Approximate Size: 4,000 acres
Fun Fact: The Agassiz Wilderness is almost completely flat; its lowest point is 1,140 feet above sea level and its “peak” is 1,149 feet.
Big Slough Wilderness, Texas
Established as a Wilderness: October 30, 1984
Wildlife: Largemouth bass, panfish, channel catfish, alligators, beavers, deer, and butterflies
Approximate Size: 3,639 acres
Fun Fact: Located in the Davy Crockett National Forest, Big Slough Wilderness is the smallest wilderness area in the state of Texas.
Cumberland Island Wilderness, Georgia
Established as a Wilderness: September 8, 1982
Wildlife: Alligators, loggerhead turtles, pelicans, wood storks, egret, heron, American oystercatchers, least terns, Wilson’s plovers, gopher tortoise, green sea turtles, and leatherback sea turtles
Approximate Size: 9,886 acres
Fun Fact: Cumberland Island is 36,545 acres, making it Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island.
Keep America’s Wild Places Safe!
Oil and gas companies are threatening one of our most iconic landscapes, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with exploration and drilling. That’s why one of the things we’re asking Members of Congress to do this week is to co-sponsor legislation designating Alaska’s Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness.