How has the Wilderness Act affected your life?

It’s 50 years since the United States passed the Wilderness Act into law. The act set aside millions of acres as wilderness, and specifically mandated wilderness status for the BWCA in Minnesota.

The language of the act, which enjoyed broad bipartisan support in Congress, is positively poetic compared with most legislation: “A wilderness,” it says, “in contrast with those areas where man and his 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.”

Yet the act remains controversial in some quarters. Critics point out, for example, that visiting the wilderness is expensive, and that the act’s restrictions on the use of motors favors those with time and money.

Today’s question: How has the Wilderness Act affected your life?


  • PaulJ

    A cleaner environment generally.

  • Scott44

    It has not really affected me at all. About the only time it does is if we have a Search and Rescue mission into the BWCA.

  • Jim G

    It has protected our wilderness areas for fifty years. Now it’s our generation’s obligation to make sure these precious resources are protected for another fifty years. For once they are ruined through mining, farming, or motorized recreational uses they can never be wilderness again.

  • Gary F

    except for Jim G, who was around way, way, way longer than 50 years ago, who knew what it was like before that? Not me.

    • Jim G

      Just one “way” would have been sufficient. Don’t ask for whom the bell tolls…

      • gary f

        Gotcha. Just a little joking around.

        • Jim G

          I remember my Grandma Elsie saying something like, “Growing old is not for wimps, but it’s better than the alternative.” She was a very smart woman; widowed for forty-five years, and you’ll be happy to know a Republican. She lived back when the Republicans still embraced policies that supported widows with six kids. Have a good one. 😉

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Having travelled extensively for 40 years in many American wilderness areas, as well as across Canada up to the arctic, I can tell you that wilderness gives one the feeling of absolute freedom. Physical and mental challenge, as well as spiritual connectedness are all part of traveling through wild country. Wilderness and open spaces are probably the things that most keep Americans (and Canadians) from being like much of the rest of the world. Backpacking, Canoe Tripping, Mountaineering, Mushing–these are all part of the Good Life, and Americans are damn lucky to have these opportunities. I hope we always will.

  • JQP

    best destresser ever… no machines, city noise or clutter.

    I’ve family who worked in the civilian youth corps in northern MN and other who worked in the WPA … in other parts of MN… and suprisingly they took a lot of pictures.

    while progress aids in providing the income for families and communities to grow… there is a substantial need to preserve “wilderness” throughout the state so that it is close and accessible for people to view and participate in.

    Regarding motorized access… I’m not a supporter of it. Perhaps the solution there is to designate specific areas/routes as motor accessible for disabled individuals … but no one else. Old, tired, weak, … are not excuses. there are plenty of places where you can drive, fly, boat already.

    • David

      I don’t think motorizing the BWCAW will improve access for those physically unable to self-propell. The issue is generally not on the lake, but getting in and out of the canoe and about the campsite. There are organizations (Wilderness Inquiry is one I have volunteered with) that manage quite well in bringing campers on a BWCAW trip, providing a meaningful and rewarding wilderness experience.