Wrangell-St. Elias Wilderness
"Long before recorded history, the human experience was conceived in and born of wilderness. In the deepest recesses of our hearts resonates a longing to reach out and once again grasp those primal areas. It is reassuring to know that the experience is available in those places of truly majestic wilderness - places like Wrangell-St. Elias."
50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act
In 2014, our nation is celebrating "50 Years of Wilderness". On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside millions of acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. The majority of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is designated as a wilderness area and it is the largest in a system of 757 wilderness areas throughout the United States.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve invited photographers to enter its 2014 Digital Photo Contest.
A Vast Wilderness
Wilderness versus Land Use- A Delicate Balancing Act
Wilderness areas preserve the primeval character and pristine nature of wild spaces. They offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, recreation, and unconfined exploration. With the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) in 1980, a new vision of wildness and wilderness was established where humans are viewed not as separate from nature but rather a part of it. The vision also prescribes that park and preserve protection are not meant exclusively for natural and cultural resources - it also extends to people, their lifestyles and intangible associations with the land.
Many Alaskans depend on wilderness lands for their livelihood. Recognizing these special needs, ANILCA established regulations for wilderness areas that are different than those found outside of Alaska. ANILCA permits the use of airplanes, all-terrain vehicles, snow machines, and motorboats for access. It allows cabin use and camps within wilderness areas. Most importantly, subsistence activities such as hunting and fishing are part of the Alaskan wilderness experience allowed by ANILCA.
Because of the immense size and rugged terrain of the park, these regulations have little impact on the visitor's wilderness experience. Opportunities abound for visitors seeking adventure in a remote and challenging setting. Remember to plan ahead and be prepared before exploring this vast and remote area.
To find out more about federally designated wilderness areas in the United States, please visit Wilderness.net.