This year of 2014 marks two special anniversaries–the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and the 90th of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter.
Readers of the Yodeler already know a lot about the Bay Chapter and its ongoing work for the Bay Area environment. Less conspicuous in the paper in recent years, but no less dear to the Sierra Club’s heart, is our work for wilderness and wildlands in general.
When the Chapter was first founded, our focus was primarily in defense of wild places all around California and the nation. Over the decades we have added many local concerns such as stopping pollution and changing development and transportation patterns. In the last 15 years, energy and climate change have risen in prominence. But during all these years our Chapter Wilderness Committee has steadfastly kept the Chapter anchored in our original wilderness tradition.
So when the Wilderness Act was proposed, in the 1950s and early ’60s, the Chapter was there working for it, and we joined in the celebration when Pres. Lyndon Johnson signed it in 1964, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System, which today includes over 750 areas totaling nearly 110 million acres within our national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. We were there in the following campaign that led to the California Wilderness Act in 1984. We campaigned for many years for the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. Our efforts have not been just for California: we campaigned actively for wilderness in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, and we continue to work for smaller wilderness bills all over the nation and for other types of protection for the nation’s varied wildlands.
All of these bills establish federal wilderness areas, lands given the nation’s highest level of protection for public lands, where, in the words of the Wilderness Act, “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
We’re also celebrating new successes: on March 4, ending a five-year hiatus, Congress designated a new wilderness area: over 32,500 acres in Michigan’s beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. And on March 11 Pres. Obama added the Stornetta Public Lands along the Garcia River near Point Arena to the California Coastal National Monument (see http://theyodeler.org/?p=9196.
So help celebrate!
A coalition of some 30 non-governmental organizations and federal agencies, known as “Wilderness50”, is organizing a diverse array of events across the country to highlight wilderness. A key goal is to promote wilderness to a broader public, inspiring more Americans—especially young people and communities of color—to experience wilderness themselves and in time to join in protecting our remaining natural places from development. Learn more about the anniversary at www.wilderness50th.org and www.facebook.com/50thAnniversaryOfTheWildernessAct.
To volunteer here in the Bay Area, contact Anne Henny at email@example.com or Vicky Hoover at (415)977-5527.
The Bay Chapter too is organizing a series of events for its 90th anniversary. To help, contact Joanne Drabek at (510)530-5216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For word of the events as they are scheduled, see future Yodelers and the Chapter Calendar at http://sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org/activities.