Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to visit and experience Wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest during 2014 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Each month the U.S. Forest Service will be featuring a different Congressionally designated Wilderness and day hike.
Click on a highlighted day hike or Wilderness for more detailed information.
In 1964, our nation's leaders formally acknowledged the immediate and lasting benefits of wild places to the human spirit and fabric of our nation. On September 3 of that year, in a nearly unanimous vote, Congress enacted landmark legislation that permanently protected some of the most natural and undisturbed places in America. The Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System “… to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.”
A uniquely American idea, wilderness is part of our heritage and is passed on as a legacy to future generations. Firmly attached to the American past, the legacy that is wilderness will remain indispensable to the American future.
The Wilderness Act defines wilderness as “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements...and which generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable;…has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;…and may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, or historical value.”
There are currently 11 Congressionally designated wildernesses covering nearly 67,000 acres in Cherokee National Forest. Of the 85,000 acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas within the Cherokee NF approximately 20,000 acres were recommended as Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) in the revised 2004 Cherokee National Forest Land & Resource Management Plan. In 2011 Senators Alexander and Corker introduced legislation to designate seven recommended WSA’s for Wilderness status. These areas total 19,556 acres.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.