The Wilderness Act
Senators Commemorate Wilderness in 2004
For the 40th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
Read the speeches
Commemorating Wilderness and the Wilderness Act by Senator John McCain, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, and Senators Feinstein, Russ Feingold, Robert C. Byrd, Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer.
"A wilderness... is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain... an area of undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and influence..."
- The Wilderness Act, September 3, 1964
Wilderness designation is an Act of Congress, originally passed in 1964. Since then, over 90,000,000 acres have been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System throughout the United States.
What is Wilderness?
Wilderness is an area of undeveloped federal land that appears “to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprints of mans’ work substantially unnoticeable,” as written in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Unlike national parks, wildlife refuges, or monuments, wilderness designation from congress provides the highest level of natural resource protection available in the world. The Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System to preserve the last remaining wild lands in America. Currently, about 4.7 percent of all available land in the United States is protected as wilderness. In Arizona, wilderness designation protects approximately 6.2 percent of our land and wildlife habitat.
> Read more from The Wilderness Society
History and Administration
The signing of the Wilderness Act, 1964
In 1964, the United States Congress passed the hallmark Wilderness Act. The idea of designating areas as Wilderness enjoyed overwhelming support - of the 474 Senators and Representatives then, only 13 voted against it. Since 1964, more than 100 million acres have been added to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
When a Wilderness Area is created, several land management issues are clarified, namely that the designated area will be managed to retain its primitive and wild character. While Wilderness does not allow motorized transportation or equipment, it is open to the public and encouraged to be enjoyed. As the Wilderness Act states, "wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."
Whether you enjoy hiking, horse-packing, photography, exploring, or just knowing that wild places still exist, Wilderness ensures that a place remains where the imprint of humans is largely unnoticeable.
Only Congress reserves the right to designate Wilderness. Therefore, a congressional bill will accomplish our goal to protect the magnificent Tumacacori Highland wilderness for this and generations to come.
The Tumacacori Highlands
The Tumacacori Highlands
The proposed Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness is the largest roadless area on Forest Service lands in Arizona that remains unprotected. Recognized as valuable intact core wildlife habitat in the RARE II (Roadless Area Review and Evaluation) process and from on-the-ground survey work by Sky Island Alliance staff, volunteers and collaborating groups, the area supports native biodiversity of game and non-game species, common and rare species, including whitetail deer, Coue's deer, javelina, mountain lion, Peregrine falcon, golden eagle, elegant trogon, five-stripped sparrow, sonoran chub, Chiricahua leopard frog, and jaguar.
The area is diverse in vegetation and views as well - predominately rolling grassland hills and open-canopy oak, with sheer cliffs, deep canyons, and pine trees at the highest elevations. In short, the Tumacacori Highlands are Arizona as Arizona used to be.
The Tumacacori Highlands proposed Wilderness is approximately 80,000 acres in southern Arizona, entirely public lands within the Colorado National Forest, Nogales District. The area includes the Pajarito Mountains, Atascosa Mountains, Tumacacori Mountains, and important connecting valleys such as Bear Valley, Bartolo Canyon, Peck Canyon, Apache Pass, and others, and is roughly bounded by the international border and the existing Pajarito Wilderness on the south, Pena Blanca Lake and Wise Mesa on the east, Arivaca Lake on the west, and Red Springs Pass Road (also called the Hunters' Access Road) on the north. The proposed Wilderness is entirely within Arizona Congressional District 7, Mr. Grijalva's district, with the north side bordering Arizona Congressional District 8. The currently proposed wilderness boundaries are subject to change as collaborators and stakeholders adjust the proposal to meet the needs of the public.
>More on the Tumacacori Highlands region.
"Woke up this morning on an island in the sky, surrounded by clouds..." Edward Abbey, in Confessions of a Barbarian.
By Mike Quigley, Sky Island Alliance Wilderness Campaign Coordinator.
[Read the Article]