Wilderness Act Turns 60

Wilderness 60 logo

This year we should  remember two important environmental milestones. The Sierra Club Kansas Chapter was formed 50 years ago and 2024 also marks the 60th anniversary of the Wilderness Act that established America’s National Wilderness Preservation System.

On September 3, 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, he established a national wilderness system to strengthen safeguards for 54 areas in 13 states, places that had been administratively protected by the Forest Service. Recognizing that administrative protection was temporary and haphazard, wildlands advocates saw that a national law was needed for enduring protection of wild, natural lands from development. Today, that wilderness system has grown to 806 areas in 44 states plus Puerto Rico.

While Kansas does not have any designated wilderness areas, the Kansas Chapter works hard to conserve “Wild Kansas” and to support laws that protect wildlife faced with climate change and increasing threat of extinction. National Sierra Club is engaged in the “30 by 30” campaign to protect large swaths of natural land and waters, to help combat both the climate and extinction crises Land Conservation | Sierra Club.

This year, in addition to local events throughout the nation, our wild places will be celebrated as part of the 12th World Wilderness Congress, taking place in Rapid City, South Dakota, on August 24 to 31, 2024  At least one full day will have a special focus on North American Wilderness. 

The 60th anniversary of the Wilderness Act is an opportunity to increase public awareness about the need to enhance wildlife habitat and to provide more access to the outdoors for all Kansans. Check out the “Featured Waypoint” in each edition of our newsletter and submit your own photos and stories about your favorite wild places in Kansas.
To celebrate 60 years of wilderness protection and to join the Sierra Club’s nationwide effort, contact Vicky Hoover, Wildlands Team Sixtieth co-coordinator, vicky.hoover@sierraclub.org.

“Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should, not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.”

Senator Clinton Anderson, New Mexico, where the Forest Service designated its first administrative wilderness – the Gila – whose centennial is in 2024.