Term Paper: Wilderness Bill Act 1964

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Wilderness Bill or Wilderness Act, developed out of the work of the Wilderness Society, led by Howard Zahniser. The bill came about as a response to the rapid urbanization and sprawl of the nation, which resulted in a rapid decline in the amount of protected wilderness space. At its core, the act created a legal definition for "wilderness" and, when enacted on September 3, 1964, protected over nine million acres of federal wilderness area.

Although prior to the act many wilderness areas were protected by administrative orders, the enactment of the Wilderness Act ensured that all federal land that qualified under the know clearly defined meaning of wilderness would be forever protected through the National Wilderness Preservation System. (Gorte, et. al.).

The Wilderness Society was founded in 1935 with the purpose of creating a "systematic protection of this nation's special wild places." (the Wilderness Society, et. al.). When Zahniser became president of the organization in 1955, he was disillusioned with the up-to-then piecemeal attempts to preserve these areas. Zahniser said:

Let us be done with a wilderness preservation program made up of a sequence of overlapping emergencies, threats and defense campaigns." (Harvey, p. 83).

From this statement the Wilderness Act was drafted. Eight years, eighteen hearings and sixty-six versions later, the Wilderness Act was passed several months after Zahniser's death. However, his definition of wilderness remained powerful:

An area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." (the Wilderness Act, 1964).

Today this definition includes all lands managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

One of the key provisions of the act was its requirement that every wilderness area designated by Congress be given a specific boundary line, which was included in the statutory law. Once the wilderness area was added to the Wilderness Area Protection System, it was set in stone as the only way to alter the boundary was through another Congressional act.

The parameters of the Wilderness Act are aimed at ensuring real protection to federal lands for the preservation for future generations. According to the Wilderness Act, all land that is protected under its jurisdiction became areas of public land. Further, a designation as being a wilderness is an additional protection given to the land that supersedes any less protection granted by the administrative agency overseeing the national forest, national park, wildlife refuges and other forms of public land. The Wilderness Act also places an emphasis on conservation instead of tourism or public use. According to Doug Scott,

We strive to restrain human influences so that ecosystems can change over time in their own way, free, as much as possible, from human manipulation...the earth and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Wilderness Bill Act 1964.  (2007, April 22).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/wilderness-bill-act-1964/38440

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"Wilderness Bill Act 1964."  22 April 2007.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/wilderness-bill-act-1964/38440>.

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"Wilderness Bill Act 1964."  Essaytown.com.  April 22, 2007.  Accessed December 7, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/wilderness-bill-act-1964/38440.