Since passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, wilderness advocates have been successful in expanding the size of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) from the 9 million acres originally designated by the Wilderness Act to approximately 111 million acres today. However, during that same time period research has documented that the quality and integrity of our wilderness system is declining. Wilderness advocates have begun realizing that designating wilderness is only the first step toward achieving protection; the second critical step is to prevent diminishment and loss of Wilderness values by staunchly applying good wilderness stewardship.
Four federal agencies have stewardship duties under the Wilderness Act: the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Agency personnel are charged by the Wilderness Act to protect the wilderness character of the acres under their jurisdiction. Good Wilderness stewardship requires respecting the value of self-willed land, where natural processes prevail and humans do not dominate and control.
For a list of wilderness areas in the National Wilderness Preservation System visit wilderness.net.