Wilderness Areas

A "Wilderness Area" is a legal term for a certain type of land defined by the Wilderness Act, starting in 1964. Such areas are permanently protected by law and are meant to be preserved with extreme care so that the natural habitats of the land are preserved.

United States was the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. After the United States created designated wilderness areas, many other countries followed suit and while the legal ramifications are specific to each country, the general idea of wilderness areas designated for protection are now a global concept.

Hiking Nature Photo

Wilderness Act Legal Notes

Here are some of the more notable legal quotes from the Wilderness Act:

  • "...lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition..."
  • "...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man..."
  • "...an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvement or human habitation..."
  • "...generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable..."
  • "...has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation..."
  • "...shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic use."

Snow Hiking

New Wilderness Areas

On 3/30/09 President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This law designated 52 new wilderness areas and added additional acres of land to 26 existing areas. In total, the law added approximately 2 million acres into preservation as Wilderness Areas.

The author of the Wilderness Act was Howard Zahniser. In his wording of the document, he specifically identified a few actions which are not allowed. Some of these are fishing, catching or hunting any wildlife. The wording of the document also specifies that people can not change or manipulate the areas and the lands designated as wilderness areas can only be subject to what are considered nature's natural changes.

More Wilderness Area Information

There is an estimated between 16 to 35 million trips to different wilderness areas within the United States each year. Some of the popular activities are these areas are hiking, backpacking, camping, canoeing, rafting, kayaking, climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, horseback riding, cross-country and downhill skiing, swimming, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing etc. Notice that all of these activities are possible to do without the use of any motorized vehicles. That is because motorized vehicles are not allowed in these areas.

Almost every state in United States has a wilderness area. There are only 6 states without at least one designated wilderness areas. These states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland and Rhode Island.