Wilderness. The word conjures up romantic images of wide open landscapes teeming with birds, beasts, and plants. I imagine places untouched by human influence – truly wild and free. Places that are exotic and far away.
Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Copyright © 2011 Mike Salamacha, Paria Ranger, BLM, Photographer
But wilderness exists much closer than you may think.
The United States Congress adopted the Wilderness Act with a nearly unanimous vote in 1964. Ours was the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas – lands valued enough to be set aside for the purpose of protection.
Currently, the Wilderness Act protects 757 individual wilderness areas across the United States – totaling more than 109 million acres. Thirty-three wilderness areas are found in Utah, and they protect a variety of unique landscapes from the red rock desert found in Red Butte Wilderness to the alpine forests of the High Uintas Wilderness. While the landscapes may look incredibly different from one wilderness area to the next, these lands share a number of qualities which can be described by adjectives such as peaceful, quiet, untouched, and pristine.
These areas protect some of the most unique and incredible landscapes that Utah has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’re off limits. Our wilderness areas are just that – ours. They are public lands, accessible to anyone who wants to visit – so long as you tread lightly.
Areas that fall under its protection are described in the Wilderness Act as “lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition…” which “…shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic use.” These amazing lands were set aside in 1964 with an eye to the future and because of it, should still be around for your grandchildren’s grandchildren to enjoy.
There is an ongoing effort to educate Americans about the immense value of preserving wilderness areas. For without education, they may one day be selfishly reclaimed and lost. One of these educational opportunities is coming to Logan on April 13th and 14th. The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center will be hosting a teacher training workshop in conjunction with the Stokes Nature Center and the Utah Society for Environmental Education. The workshop is aimed at teachers in grades 5-8, though anyone is welcome to attend. For more information, please contact the Stokes Nature Center at www.logannature.org
Not a teacher? The best way to learn about wilderness areas is to go visit one! Information, and photos of Utah Wilderness Areas, can be found at www.wildaboututah.org
For the Stokes Nature Center and Wild About Utah, this is Andrea Liberatore.
Photos: Courtesy Wilderness.net, Steve Archibald, (Individual Copyrights noted)
Text: Andrea Liberatore, Stokes Nature Center, logannature.org
The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center:
Wilderness Investigations teacher training workshop: