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The Wilderness Act and provisions of related laws - Comprehensively annotated by Doug Scott

I have sought here to distill everything I have learned over 40 years of study, lobbying, and activism to annotated the words of the law with:

The official congressional documents:

  • The committee reports explaining the bill to the full Senate and House of Representatives.
  • The conference report explaining those few changes made in resolving the final differences between the two versions passed by the two houses.
  • The introductory speeches and floor debates as Congress worked on the legislation.

The intent as expressed by its draftsman, Howard Zahniser, and his closest confidants, notably David Brower of the Sierra Club.

pdfThe Wilderness Act225.84 KB

pdfAir Pollution Prevention in Wilderness Areas201.68 KB

The Four Essential Web Resources For Wilderness Advocates and Stewards

The Gold Standard for information about every area in our National Wilderness Preservation System—searchable by name or location of the wilderness, with descriptions, photos, and tabs to download maps and copies of the laws that designated each area. Jointly maintained by the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana and the four federal wilderness agencies. Check out the Toolboxes on a wide variety of wilderness stewardship information and resources: http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=toolboxes
To download the complete text of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and relevant provisions of related laws, with my detailed annotations explaining the history and intent of the wording in the law, pdfclick here225.84 KB.  

Working to encourage growth and protection of the wilderness system, The Campaign for America’s Wilderness is an arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts and deploys far the largest group of professional lobbyists, grassroots and media specialists working for designation of new wilderness areas, and working in close collaboration, of course, with local partner groups in each state and with the other national wilderness organizations. This site provides up-to-date information on every wilderness designation bill pending in Congress and where it stands in the legislative process.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Sign up for the Campaign for America’s Wilderness’s daily email with all of that day’s media stories concerning wilderness designation and stewardship. Put “subscribe” in the subject line.http://www.pewenvironment.org/campaigns/campaign-for-americas-wilderness/id/62078  Sign up for CAW’s monthly newsletter highlighting action on wilderness designation in Congress and spotlighting an existing wilderness area each month.

The National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance works to establish and support the work of wilderness stewardship groups, mostly volunteer-run, which work with the hard-pressed federal agency staffs on light trail maintenance, trail monitoring, and visitor education. From the site click on the link to sign up for monthly e-newletter.
www.wildernesslandtrust.org  The Wilderness Land Trust works with the federal agencies and private land owners as a realtor, negotiating win-win deals by which it acquires private lands surrounded by wilderness area and holds them until the federal agency has funding to acquire them from the Trust, which then recycles it funds for additional projects. Staffed by real estate experts, each transactions are based on valuation by a professional assessor.  Works primarily in the western states.

The Four Wilderness-Administering Agencies

 The U.S. Forest Service, in the Department of Agriculture, had the earliest wilderness protection policies and its areas made up the original wilderness system established by the 1964 Wilderness Act. This is the gateway to pages on each national forest (found all over the country) and national grassland, with links to wilderness areas on that forest, and contact information for the key agency personnel, as well as for each forest management plan, the vehicle for considering recommendation of additional wilderness areas.

The Bureau of Land Management, in the Department of the Interior, was the final agency to join the wilderness program, as part of the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and has the fewest acres designated.  Links here to each State Office, and to the National Landscape Conservation System, with links to each wilderness areas and wilderness study areas, as well as to each resource management plan, which is the vehicle for recommending new wilderness areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in the Department of the Interior, administers hundreds of wilderness areas nationwide, including huge areas in Alaska (notably the 9,000,000-acre wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, minus the controversial area proposed for oil and gas drilling, which will not occur, ever!) and many small islands and several vast ocean national monuments in the U.S. territorial waters in the Pacific southwest of Hawaii, which will have designated underwater wilderness areas one day. Links here to each wildlife refuge and to each wilderness area, as well as to each refuge conservation plan, the vehicle for recommending new wilderness areas.

The National Park Service, in the Department of the Interior, has the largest acreage of designated wilderness areas thanks to huge wilderness areas in large national parks, monuments, and preserves in Alaska, the California Desert, and the Everglades. Links here to each park system unit and to each wilderness area, as well as to each park management plan, the vehicle for considering designation of new wilderness areas.

The National Trails System

Our National Trails System is a network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of. Includes national scenic trails (the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail), national historic trails, national recreation trails, and national water trails, together with a category for potential trails to be studied.

American Trails works to encourage designation and stewardship of all kinds of trails—hiking trails, biking trails, mountain biking trails, cross-country ski trails, and trails open to off-road vehicles, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.
Sign up for a newsletter about trail issues.

The Wild and Scenic River System

The Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established four years after the Wilderness Act became law and protects many hundreds of miles of free-flowing river segments nationwide as “wild” (no shoreline roads or development) or “scenic” (some roads and development).  Prohibits dams and further shoreline development.  Link to the text of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. Includes a study provision for candidates for river classification. A provision of the law provides that where a designated river segment overlaps a designated wilderness—which is common—the stronger, more protective of the two protection provisions will apply.

American Rivers works to encourage the growth and protection of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Links connect to each river group working to protect a river segment. To sign up for a alerts and news on river issues, fill in the form on the right side: https://www.americanrivers.org/take-action/