Tim McFlynn and Pete Van Domelen: Guest opinion | AspenTimes.com

Tim McFlynn and Pete Van Domelen: Guest opinion

Tim McFlynn and Pete Van Domelen
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Today is the 45th birthday of the Wilderness Act and a great day to ask yourself what wilderness means to you.

The 1964 Act is one of the most remarkable laws ever passed anywhere. It empowers ordinary citizens to petition their government to permanently preserve those peaks and valleys, watersheds and wildlife habitat, scenic vistas and seashores, so incredibly special as to be set aside forever in their natural state for future generations. Citizen wilderness proposals created and preserved much of the wild land that surrounds our valleys and will supply our grandchildren’s grandchildren opportunities for adventure, solitude, recreation and renewal.

Since 1964, over 109 million acres, or about 2 percent, of federal national forest and BLM lands in the lower 48 states have been designated as wilderness by Congress. That leaves 98 percent open to motorized and mechanized recreation, mining, timber harvesting, energy development and many other uses.

Over the same 45 years, our own Wilderness Workshop in Carbondale has organized local citizens and their elected officials to successfully champion wilderness designations again and again. These efforts were pivotal in the creation of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass, Hunter Fryingpan, Collegiate Peaks and Raggeds wilderness areas. Check out our website, http://www.wildernessworkshop.org, and lend a hand to our work.

Today there is a new “Hidden Gems” campaign well underway. Ever hiked to Treasure Mountain? Ruby Lakes? Assignation Ridge? These are just three of the more than 40 areas eligible for protection under this proposal. So if you love being surrounded by wilderness, wildlife, crystalline water and places to hike, camp, climb, horseback ride, hunt, or fish in the silence and solitude of nature, commit today to take action. Start by clicking on the campaign’s website, http://www.whiteriverwild.org.

Act today by penning a letter or e-mail, making a call, taking a hike, or just thinking about wild nature while writing a check to support a successful campaign. Write or call your County Commissioner or Congressman and add your voice and name to this legacy.

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Act again tomorrow by getting your family and friends to act so that we keep gathering the citizen support and momentum needed for these spectacular additions to our wilderness heritage – under the Act we celebrate today.

Thanks for joining the campaign!