45 years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law, paving the way to protect spectacular wild places like California's John Muir Wilderness, New Mexico's Gila Wilderness, Glacier Peak in Washington, and Idaho's Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Since then, the act has conferred the highest level of protection to over 109 million acres—the latest additions include California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Oregon’s Mt. Hood, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.
To celebrate the birthday of this landmark conservation legislation, the Wilderness Society held a photo contest challenging nature lovers to shoot their favorite wild places. You can view the 45 winners in a slideshow on their website. (The winning photo of Yellowstone Lake, from William Hacker, is pictured above.)
109 million protected acres might sound huge, but that's just 2.5 percent of all our wild public lands in the U.S. The Wilderness Society hopes to push for more protection in states like Alaska, Washington, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, and Maine. (The latest fight involves northern New Mexico’s El Rio Grand Del Norte.)
To stay involved, keep checking in at http://wilderness.org/.