50th Anniversary Wilderness Act kick-off celebration event - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

50th Anniversary Wilderness Act kick-off celebration event

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HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) -

The 50th year anniversary of President of Lyndon B. Johnson's signage of the 1964 Wilderness Act will be September 3.

This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America's support for wilderness, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system.

There are eight designated wildernesses in Illinois; all located in southern Illinois and under management by either Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge or the Shawnee National Forest.

Wilderness, as defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act, are areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain. Wildernesses are managed under specific guidelines where the goal is to maintain and perpetuate their individual wilderness values now and for future generations.

For five decades, the Wilderness Act has protected many of America's greatest and most breathtaking lands, including areas like Crab Orchard Wilderness, Bald Knob Wilderness and Garden of the Gods Wilderness. In celebration of Illinois Wildernesses, the Shawnee National Forest and Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge will host several events throughout 2014 that will give the public an opportunity to explore and appreciate their local wilderness areas.

Wilderness Act celebrations will kick-off on Saturday, Feb. 15 with a Wilderness Quest held at Crab Orchard Visitor Center. There will be a variety of on-going activities, including both indoor and outdoor, with ‘Wilderness Wisdom" starting at 1 p.m. and a guided hike at 2:30 p.m. Participants who complete the 2 mile hike will receive a Crab Orchard Wilderness Pin. Make plans to be a part of this unique look at our region's wilderness and learn something new about these local treasures.

Other Wilderness Act anniversary programs planned for 2014 include a photo contest, guided hikes in each of the eight wildernesses, self-guided Wilderness Quests and Wilderness Journaling along with children's activities from the Become a Wilderness Explorer activity book.

For more information about the upcoming Wilderness Quest event, contact Crab Orchard Visitor Center 618-997-3344 or contact the Shawnee NF 618-833-8576.

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