December 6, 2016

Happy birthday, wilderness

Happy Birthday Wilderness banner.

Happy Birthday Wilderness banner.

In 1964, 50 years ago, Pres. Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act, creating America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Sierra Club, other organizations, and the four federal agencies that manage wilderness agencies are celebrating that golden anniversary—now and for the whole year–to educate a broader public about wilderness.

One big Bay Area event will be a Visions of the Wild Festival in early September in Vallejo, a city especially proud of its diverse community. Our goal is to reach out to diverse audiences and work with schools to involve students too.

In our Chapter, we are already planning several wonderful events, including a joint event with the California Historical Society in San Francisco to celebrate the role of wilderness in California’s history–and the role of the Sierra Club in that history. We’re working on promoting wilderness displays/exhibits in Bay Area public libraries, and we plan to have a big “Wilderness 50th” presence at Earth Day events throughout the Bay Area this coming April. The Chapter Wilderness Committee has a list of other great potential Bay Area events to work on, such as:

  • activities with the East Bay Regional Park District—(it was involved in 2004 at the 40th anniversary);
  • a family hike along San Leandro Creek, helping promote the area’s inclusion in a Bay to Ridgeline trail system;
  • additional family-friendly hikes–we need leaders;
  • a joint outing (or outings) with the Oceanic Society to observe birds on the Farallon Islands (the Farallones, within our Chapter boundaries, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of being designated wilderness, in 2014; see;
  • a joint event or events with the National Park Service, to honor Phil Burton, in or near the wilderness named for him within the Point Reyes National Seashore;
  • a series of walks in the national wildlife refuges that ring the Bay;
  • a joint event with the California Academy of Sciences in conjunction with its next year’s theme of biodiversity;
  • hikes to nearby state wildernesses, or at least to the state parks that contain them, e.g. the Orestimba State Wilderness in Henry Coe State Park;
  • a photo contest for children of pictures they take of themselves in wilderness or natural areas;
  • exhibits of wilderness photos at the San Francisco and Oakland Airports;
  • getting city and county governments to issue proclamations or pass resolutions in honor of California wilderness.

This list is still growing–awaiting your additional ideas and involvement. As the Bay Chapter’s newly appointed volunteer coordinator for our Wilderness 50th anniversary events, I’m urging you, and anyone you know who cares about wilderness, to please contact me with your ideas and to volunteer a few hours of your time. Learn more about the anniversary at:

To get involved in putting on the big wilderness celebration, please contact Anne Henny at or Vicky Hoover at (415)977-5527.

Anne Henny

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