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What is Wilderness?

Wilderness means many things to many people—watersheds to collect and purify our water; places for our children and theirs to grow healthy and capable; habitat for plants and wildlife; biomedical storehouses to protect tomorrow's scientific and medical discoveries; adventure and exploration; fair chase and a quality hunt; good fishing; archaeological windows into the past, etched into rock and lying on the ground, inviting us to wonder; escape from the noise and rush of civilization; where we can experience solitude and the beauty and wonder of Creation.

Discover the many uses of wilderness.

Wilderness, Defined by Congress:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an areas where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” “An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence , without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which

  1. generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of mans work substantially unnoticeable;

  2. has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;

  3. has at least five thousand acres of land or of sufficient size to make practical it preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and

  4. may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.”

Wilderness Act Definition

“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in the natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.”

These poetic words, penned by visionary Howard Zahniser and enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1964, established the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Read the full text of the 1964 Wilderness Act

Read other bills that designated wilderness in Nevada

View wilderness areas by date designated

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