LBJ made mark on landscape 45 years ago todayEfforts to protect delicate and irreplaceable ecosystems, wildlife and landscape were being carried out long ago, with one celebrating a birthday today.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Efforts to protect delicate and irreplaceable ecosystems, wildlife and landscape were being carried out long ago, with one milestone's birthday today.
Forty-five years ago today, on Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act. His signature on the legislative piece in turn, according to the National Park Service Web site, spawned the National Wilderness Prevention System, recognizing wilderness 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.”
Jeffrey Olson, public affairs officer for the National Park Service, said 109 million acres nationwide have been designated as wilderness.
Some of these wilderness acres are located right in southwest North Dakota.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, home to the Roosevelt Wilderness Area, became home to about 30,000 designated wilderness acres on Nov. 10, 1978, said Superintendent Valerie Naylor.
“They are undeveloped areas of the park that receive the highest level of protection,” she said. “Wilderness areas do not have roads and development.”
About 42 percent of TRNP is designated wilderness, Naylor said.
Naylor said Congress designates which areas fall under the Wilderness Act.
“They (wilderness) are areas of federal land, generally areas of 5,000 acres or more,” Naylor said.
The North Unit of the park is more remote so more of it qualified for the Wilderness Act, about 19,400 acres. The South Unit houses about 10,500 acres, Naylor said.
“It’s very important that this small part of the Badlands is set aside, undeveloped for the enjoyment of the public…and to provide the outstanding habitat for wildlife people treasure so much in TRNP,” Naylor said.
However, the National Park Service is not the only agency to manage and contain wilderness acreage.
Naylor said a large amount of wilderness is managed by Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Olson said 109 million acres nationally are designated wilderness, with about 1 in 6 acres of public land being wilderness.
With the celebration of the Wilderness Act’s birthday today, numerous lands have been protected.
“This sets aside areas that can be preserved in their natural state for future generations,” Naylor said.