Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)
On September 3, 1964, I signed a milestone bill in the history of conservation: the Wilderness Act. This Act incorporated 54 National Forest areas into the new National Wilderness Preservation System. It preserved for all time more than nine million acres in their original and unspoiled beauty.
That legislation also called upon the President to make recommendations for the inclusion of certain additional areas within the Wilderness System in the future. Today, I am pleased to recommend the first such addition--the San Rafael Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest, in California.
In my special message earlier this week on Protecting our Natural Heritage, I said that, as a Nation, we must "preserve what remains of the natural beauty and tranquility that was here long before man came. We must create new occasions for people to encounter that beauty, and to experience the re-creation of the heart that occurs in the natural universe."
The bill I am transmitting today is designed to meet this test. The proposed San Rafael Wilderness is highly suitable for inclusion in the Wilderness System. It contains significant wilderness resources which will become increasingly valuable with each passing year.
But, more important, it is a wooded and mountainous area of nearly 143,000 acres near Santa Barbara, California--located within a two-hour drive of six million people--which offers a wide variety of recreation: camping, riding, hiking, and fishing, among others. If we preserve it now, it will be a source of pleasure and relaxation for millions of Americans yet unborn.
In support of this bill, I am also transmitting a letter and report from Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman recommending the establishment of this Wilderness area.
This is only a beginning. We must--and will--do more. We must continue to move forward toward seeing to it that every city dweller--especially those imprisoned by the bleakness and blight of the slums--has ready access to parks, playgrounds, and the untarnished beauty of nature's landscape. Unlimited horizons, green trees, blue lakes, fresh streams and cool forests--what could be more important to the heart and spirit of the American people, their children and their children's children?
In the coming months, I will make more recommendations to the Congress for the inclusion of additional areas in the Wilderness system.
I urge that the Congress give early and favorable approval to this important conservation measure.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON