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“The Eternal Battle”

The Success of the Wilderness Act in Washington at 50
Ronald Eber - Oregon Chapter Historian

Introduction

The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of September 3, 1964 provides an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and its importance to Washington and for future wilderness campaigns; because wilderness protection is the foundation of the conservation movement especially in Washington. The story is exemplified by what John Muir said in 1895 during an earlier campaign to protect the forest resources of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington: “the battle we have fought, and are still fighting,for the forests is part of the eternal battle between right and wrong, and we cannot expect to see the end of it.”

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Remembering the Nationwide, Yearlong Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

wilderness50-logoSeptember 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act in a Rose Garden ceremony, saying:
This is a very happy and historic occasion for all who love the great American outdoors, and that, needless to say, includes me. The two bills that I am signing this morning are in the highest tradition of our heritage as conservators as well as users of America's bountiful natural endowments

The wilderness bill preserves for our posterity, for all time to come, 9 million acres of this vast continent in their original and unchanging beauty and wonder.

The land and water conservation bill assures our growing population that we will begin, as of this day, to acquire on a pay-as-you-go basis the outdoor recreation lands that tomorrow's Americans will require.
I believe the significance of this occasion goes far beyond these bills alone. In this century, Americans have wisely and have courageously kept a faithful trust to the conservation of our natural resources and beauty. But the long strides forward have tended to come in periods of concerted effort.

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