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Letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House Transmitting Proposals To Establish New National Wilderness Areas

April 28, 1971

THE Wilderness Act of September 3, 1964, declared it to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness, and for that purpose the act established a National Wilderness Preservation System.

In my special message on the environment of February 8, 1971, I stressed the importance of wilderness areas as part of a comprehensive open space system. In these unspoiled lands, contemporary man can encounter the character and beauty of primitive America--and learn, through the encounter, the vital lesson of human interdependence with the natural environment.

Today, I am pleased to transmit fourteen proposals which would add to the National Wilderness System vast areas where nature still predominates. These areas are briefly described below.

(1) Simeonof National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska--25,140 acres of a unique wildlife environment: the biologically productive lands and waters of Simeonof Island off the coast of Alaska.

(2) North Cascades National Park, Washington--51,880 acres in two areas in North Cascades Park and Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. This nearly impenetrable wilderness includes rugged alpine mountains whose glaciers feed lakes and streams in the virgin forests below.

(3) Isle Royale National Park, Michigan--120,588 acres of island wilderness in Lake Superior. Isle Royale is one of the few remaining areas where the North American timber wolf can be found along with other relatively rare species including the moose, beaver, mink and lynx.

(4) Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California--721,970 acres. With its abundant wildlife and groves of giant sequoia trees this area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is an important site for scientific research concerning natural areas.

(5) Shenandoah National Park, Virginia--73,280 acres. The scenic grandeur of the Shenandoah's Blue Ridge is well known. This area is one of the few remaining examples of the vast mountain wildernesses that long ago stood as an obstacle before pioneers pushing westward.

(6) Breton National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana--4,420 acres. The Chandeleur and Breton Islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico, which comprise this wilderness, are an important habitat for nesting shore birds, sea turtles and wintering waterfowl.

(7) Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge--4,740 acres. Tropical vegetation, rare bird species, and Key deer native to this area are unique within the United States.

(8) West Sister National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio--85 acres. Located just nine miles east of Toledo, this island refuge serves as an important nesting area for egrets, herons, swallows, warblers and a host of other birds. The refuge is an exceptionally primitive landscape compared to the intensive land uses found along most of the Lake Erie shore.

(9) Chamisso National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska--455 acres. Located in Kotzebue Sound, this island group contains the largest marine bird nesting colony in northwestern Alaska. During annual migrations, the birds raised in this refuge contribute significantly to the abundance and variety of bird life along the coasts of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California.

(10) Farallon National Wildlife Refuge, California--141 acres. These islands comprise an important sea bird rookery, hosting some 150,000 to 200,000 birds each summer--including the largest colony complex of cormorants in California. Sea lions also inhabit the area.

(11) Izembek National Wildlife Range and Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska--301,451 acres. The tremendous natural biological productivity of this area supports a diverse array of wildlife; it is best known for its use by millions of water birds, its unique mammalian fauna and its outstanding salmon spawning waters.

(12) Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah--4,370 acres. Situated on the high Markagunt Plateau of southern Utah, this monument includes a gigantic eroded natural amphitheater whose steep walls time has carved into fantastic shapes of many colors. Subalpine meadows and forests also add to the beauty of the area.

(13) Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah--23,054 acres. This monument provides a striking example of the Waterspocket Fold, a great doubling up of the earth's crust. Its spectacular features include a great cliff of brilliantly colored rock layers and dome-like peaks of gray and white sandstone.

(14) Arches National Monument, Utah---15,703 acres. Carved from the Jurassic sandstones of the Colorado Plateau, the monument exhibits many notable examples of towers, fins, and deep canyons, and 89 natural rock arches.

In addition to these new proposals, I will also recommend an expansion of the still unenacted Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge wilderness proposal from 319,000 acres to approximately 347,000 acres. This vast swampland, located in Georgia, was originally proposed to the 90th Congress. Its designation as a wilderness area would augur well for the continued existence of the nearly 400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish that frequent this valuable ecosystem.

In reviewing roadless areas of 5,000 acres or more, the Secretary of the Interior has concluded that two areas which he reviewed are not suitable for preservation as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. These are Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico and Laguna Atascosa, Texas.

Enclosed are a letter and a report from the Secretary in support of these two negative recommendations as well as of the fourteen new wilderness proposals. I concur with the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior on these sixteen areas.

I urge the Congress to give early and favorable consideration to this package of significant conservation proposals.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Spiro T. Agnew, President of the Senate, and the Honorable Carl Albert, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The national wilderness areas proposals were introduced as H.R. 8626 and S. 2453.

Richard Nixon, Letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House Transmitting Proposals To Establish New National Wilderness Areas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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