#bornwild: BLM’s National Conservation Lands

Fifty years ago today, the Wilderness Act was signed, making the United States the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. Today, the Bureau of Land Management manages wilderness as a part of its mission under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, through our National Conservation Lands.

In 1983, Congress designated the BLM’s first wilderness: the Bear Trap Canyon Wilderness unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness in Montana. Since then, Congress has designated 221 BLM Wilderness areas encompassing 8.7 million acres, including the 1994 passage of the California Desert Protection Act which created 69 wilderness areas in California. Another 528 WSAs remain, totaling 12.7 million acres. 

The BLM’s management of diverse wilderness includes offshore rocks, deserts, canyons and alpine tundra. And because the BLM manages the most public land of any Federal agency, wilderness designations can be massive. For example, the BLM’s largest wilderness is Nevada’s 315,000-acre Black Rock Desert Wilderness. Along the California coast, the King Range Wilderness has the longest coastal wilderness trail network in the country, more than 100 miles. These lands offer clean water; starry skies; pristine wildlife habitat; and open vistas that the public and BLM employees treasure.  

Follow along all month as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act!  And check out more beautiful wilderness photos in the #wilderness50 set on our My Public Lands Flickr: http://bit.ly/blmwilderness50

Happy 50th anniversary to the Wilderness Act! President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Wilderness Act and Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in 1964 is perhaps most important single event in American conservation history. Since its signing, Congress has designated more than 106 million acres of federal public lands as wilderness.

Last week we asked you to pick your favorite wilderness photo and here is the winner. This photo was taken from the Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center within Yosemite National Park by Sean Goebel. 

#Wilderness50!  The Gila Wilderness:

Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway - Riding Beneath Cliffs in the Gila Wilderness

Packing along the Gila River, the traveler pauses to sense the quiet on this riverside campground below jagged tan cliffs.

Location: New Mexico (33.183° N 108.207° W)
Status: Public domain. Photo by Joe Burgess

The Gila Wilderness of New Mexico - the first wilderness area to be protected under the Wilderness Act and just one of the many images of wilderness areas to be found in National Archives holdings

(Submitted by usnatarchives!)

Share your favorite wilderness with the #Wilderness50 tag!

The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Today in 1964, LBJ signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land.

In his signing speech the President praised the bipartisan work in getting the bill passed: 

“I think it is significant that these steps have broad support not just from the Democratic Party, but the Republican Party, both parties in the Congress. For example, the wilderness bill has been before the Congress since 1957, but it passed this year 73 to 12 in the Senate, and 373 to 1 in the House. So it seems to me that this reflects a new and a strong national consensus to look ahead, and, more than that, to plan ahead; better still, to move ahead.”

Attendees at the ceremony included some of those Congressional leaders, and many leaders of nonprofit groups who had worked alongside them. LBJ signed the bill outdoors, in the Rose Garden–naturally!

-from the LBJ Library

Today in 1964, President Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, protecting more than 9 million acres of land. When the bill was approved by the House of Representatives on July 30 of that year Representative Gerald R. Ford had voted in support of it.

On January 4, 1975, President Ford signed H. R. 12884 - Omnibus Wilderness Designations. This legislation designated 17 additional wilderness areas in 13 states, totaling approximately 720,556 acres. Each area would be maintained in its natural state under the provisions of the Wilderness Act.

#ActOnClimate because our kids and grandkids should be able to enjoy beautiful places like these.

The EPA today released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for America’s existing power plants. Find out how the rules will make our communities healthier, and learn more about the President’s plan to cut carbon pollution in America.

Today, post photos of your favorite places, of places where you and your family get outdoors, and tag with #ActOnClimate.  We’ll post our favorites here on My Public Lands Tumblr!

View more beautiful BLM-managed places on the BLM’s My Public Lands Flickr site; photos here by Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist.


“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized 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.”

An Act to Establish a National Wilderness Preservation System, 09/03/1964

Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson fifty years ago, the Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System and protected an initial 9.1 million aces of Federal land.  It now protects over 100 million acres of wilderness in 44 states.  Read more at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

Be sure to follow our colleagues at mypubliclands as they celebrate #Wilderness50!  

Plus - share an image of your favorite wilderness area with the #Wilderness50 tag.  If it's from the National Archives, tag us ( todaysdocument) and we’ll try to reblog it!

Where is your favorite wilderness?

#Wilderness Act turns 50

On this date, September 3rd, 1964, US President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill into law known as the Wilderness Act.

The Wilderness Act created a new standard by which a portion of the public lands of the U.S. would be managed. A variety of agencies manage the public lands, including the Park Service, the Forest Service, and the BLM. At the time, many had conservation goals considered in how they managed land, but there was no clear statement of how to manage land for the purposes of minimizing human involvement.

The text of the law defined wilderness succinctly by stating “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized 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.”

The Wilderness Act thus created procedures where areas within America’s Public Lands could be managed with a goal of limiting the influence of man.

Today about 5% of the area in the United States, 429,000 square kilometers have been set-aside as Wilderness Areas under this designation. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Act, the Smithsonian is running a photography contest and later this fall there will be a meeting of groups dedicated to dealing with challenges associated with Wilderness areas. More information can be found below. This image was one of many submitted to the photo contest and it captures a nighttime Aurora in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a designated Wilderness area.



Image credit: Smithsonian/Jeff Rennicke

Read more:





Happy 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act! 50 years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed this act into law - preserving some of the most beautiful places in the country. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicehelps protect some these national treasures as a part of our National Wildlife Refuge System. http://1.usa.gov/1w6qcI6

Here in the Pacific Region, the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge is also a part of the Oregon Islands Wilderness. In Washington, the Copalis, Flattery Rocks, and Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuges are a part of the Washington Islands Wilderness. 

Photo: Crook Point, Oregon Islands NWR and Wilderness. By Roy W. Lowe/USFWS

#Wilderness50: Shining Rock Wilderness

Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway - Shining Rock Wilderness

“From a rocky vista, the view opens to horizon of pine forests with mountainscapes lining the backdrop. This vast landscape is Shining Rock Wilderness, one of the first wilderness areas to be established with the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act.”

Location: Shining Rock Wilderness, North Carolina (35.378° N 82.815° W) Status: Public domain. 

From the series: Digital Photographs Relating to America’s Byways, ca. 1995 - ca. 2013

The Shining Rock Wilderness of North Carolina - one of the first areas to be protected under the Wilderness Act and just one of the many images of wilderness areas to be found in National Archives holdings.

Share your favorite wilderness with the #Wilderness50 tag!


It’s International Mountain Day, everyone!  Check out these beauties managed by BLM California.  CLICK HERE to find mountains and other locations in California to #GetOutside this weekend. #SeeBLM

Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for the BLM’s National Conservation Lands