Seven U.S. Wilderness Areas At Risk

The Wilderness Society works to protect the wilds in our backyard…

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, landmark legislation that established a way for Americans to protect their most pristine wildlands for future generations. While the legislation currently protects some 110 million acres of wilderness from coast-to-coast from overuse and development, lots of our wildlands are still under siege from development and other pressures. The non-profit Wilderness Society has chosen seven such spots across the country in dire need of help. These “magnificent seven” include:

  • Teshekpuk Lake: In Alaska’s Western Arctic Reserve, Teshekpuk Lake is a crucial habitat for caribou, many different birds and Alaska native communities, and is threatened by oil and gas development.
  • Desolation Canyon: The red rock cliffs, rock spires and juniper-dotted slots in these far-flung section of eastern Utah is one of the best spots in the world for wilderness rafting trips, but not if current plans to drill for oil and gas area approved.
  • Yakima Basin: Home to the Columbia River’s largest tributary, this wild area in Eastern Washington sustains fish, families and farms, but salmon populations there are dwindling as water levels decrease given intense pressure from agriculture and global warming.
  • The Mahoosucs: This mountain range straddling the Maine-New Hampshire border provides a forested, waterfall-strewn escape hatch for millions of Americans in the Northeast — but not if unabated logging and other development is allowed to continue in the region.
  • Rocky Mountain Front: Stretching from Canada down into Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Front plays host to the greatest native plant and wildlife diversity in the U.S. — but not if legislation working its way through Congress takes away the wilderness protections that have helped preserve it thus far.
  • Dinkey Area: Fire suppression in California’s High Sierra over the last century has made the Dinky Area — where thousands of backpackers make annual pilgrimages there to get away from it all — especially susceptible to potentially catastrophic wildfires, especially in light of increasing surface temperatures associated with our changing climate.
  • Pisgah National Forest: Congress is working on a bill that would open up North Carolina’s Pisgah, one of the oldest national forests in the country and a mecca for wild recreation in the Southeast, to pollution and irresponsible development.

Those who love any of these areas might want to get out and enjoy them while they are still wild. In the meantime, the Wilderness Society is marshaling all the resources it can to permanently protect these and other threatened spots from the anthropogenic ills afflicting them. To find out more and discover ways to help, check out the group’s Magnificent Seven project page.