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Death Valley National Park invites the public to "Wilderness Week" October 26-November 2 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the 20th anniversary of the California Desert Protection Act (CDPA). In 1964, the Wilderness Act created a national system of wilderness "for the permanent good of the whole people." These areas were to offer places that were "undeveloped…and retaining its primeval character and influence, protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions." Events during the week will be combined to celebrate the California Desert Protection Act, which changed Death Valley's status from a national monument to a national park.Death Valley is now 91% designated wilderness and the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Entrance fees will be waived on Friday October 31 and November 1 to commemorate the historic legislation.
The Wilderness Week celebration will kick off with a dark sky program that will highlight Death Valley's pristine night sky and recognition as the largest International Dark Sky Park in the world. During the week, park rangers will lead wilderness hikes from the Furnace Creek area, and feature a photography exhibit in the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Interpretive programs during the 2014 season will include a message about the significance of the CDPA and Wilderness Act. Staff will showcase a display entitled "Faces of Wilderness" to recognize the people who helped pass these significant pieces of legislation.
On Friday evening (10/31) there will be an event in the Furnace Creek auditorium, featuring Ed Rothfuss, former Superintendent of Death Valley NP during the lead up and passing of the CDPA. At this event, the park staff will recognize those citizens who were instrumental in contributing their time and expertise to the arduous work of passing this legislation. This day is the actual 20th anniversary date! On Saturday (11/1), there will be multiple activities, including speakers, hikes, workshops, and other festivities to commemorate the event. A late afternoon session will feature former Western Director of the Wilderness Society, Patricia Schifferle, who coordinated much of the citizen advocacy efforts during this time.
For more information and schedule of events, see https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/Wilderness-Week-schedule-for-web.pdf, or call 760-786-3207.