Legal Wilderness: Its Past and Some Speculations on Its Future

By Leshy, John D. | Environmental Law, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

Legal Wilderness: Its Past and Some Speculations on Its Future


Leshy, John D., Environmental Law


E. Fabulous Success

Perhaps the most notable thing about implementation of the Wilderness Act is how the NWPS has grown by leaps and bounds. From the original fifty-four charter areas comprising nine million acres, (258) it now includes more than 750 areas extending over nearly 110 million acres, (259) a fifteen-fold increase in the number of areas, and a twelve-fold increase in acreage. Originally thirteen states were represented in the system. (260) Today, there are wilderness areas in forty-four states across the country. (261) The NWPS includes nearly one out of every six acres of federal land administered by the four federal land agencies, and almost one out of every twenty acres in the entire United States. (262)

Significantly, the vast majority of these additions did not result from the 1964 Act's agency study process. Proposals to add lands to the NWPS were freely formulated by conservationists and steered through Congress by friendly members, sometimes over the opposition of the managing federal agency. (263) The spread of the NWPS across the country has responded to Leopold's call, made in one of his earliest writings on the subject, for wilderness areas in each state in order to make the "wilderness experience more accessible to those who desired it." (264) While many of these proposals were based at least in part on agency inventories, some were based on "citizen inventories," conducted by wilderness advocates outside the agency. Often, a threat of resource development spurred wilderness advocates and supporters in Congress to work to enact legislation putting the threatened lands in the NWPS. When the New York Port Authority eyed New Jersey's Great Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge, as the site of an airport, opponents successfully persuaded Congress to put about 3,700 acres in the NWPS in 1968, the first refuge lands to be so designated. (265) Other threats prompted advocates to push the Endangered American Wilderness Act through Congress in 1978. (266)

In acreage terms, the vast bulk of NWPS expansion has come in Alaska, mostly through the landmark Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act of 1980, or ANILCA, which in a single stroke tripled the size of the NWPS. (267) It put, for example, 18.5 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge land in the NWPS (more than twenty times the acreage of Refuge land in the NWPS in the lower forty-eight); thirty-two million acres of National Park System land (ten times the amount of NPS acreage in the NWPS in the lower forty-eight), as well as five million acres of national forest lands. (268) Even today, with substantial additions to the NWPS in the lower forty-eight states since 1980, Alaska still accounts for more than half of the total NWPS acreage (fifty-seven million acres, in forty-eight units).

The scale of the NWPS likely exceeds even the most optimistic expectations of the framers of the Wilderness Act. But it would be a mistake to measure the Act's success only by lands formally part of the NWPS. The Act's legacy fairly includes acreage in various study phases for NWPS consideration, described above, as well as acreage being managed substantially to preserve roadless qualities, like the lands subject to the Forest Service's Roadless Rule, discussed further below. When these other lands--managed largely for protection of their wild qualities in the shadow of the Wilderness Act--are included, the total approaches two hundred million acres, or nearly 10% of the land area in the nation. All told, the Act is a majestic achievement, truly remarkable for a nation with a deep commitment to economic development, rapid transportation and private property rights, and infused with a distrust of government, particularly the national government.

V. CHANGES IN FEDERAL LAND POLICY SINCE 1964

As the Wilderness Act evolved through implementation, the rest of the federal land management world did not stand still. To the contrary, it changed too, in ways that have had, and will continue to have, significant impact on the future of legal wilderness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Legal Wilderness: Its Past and Some Speculations on Its Future
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.