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Message to the Congress Proposing Establishment of New Wilderness Areas.

November 28, 1973

To the Congress of the United States:

At a time when our Nation is seriously concerned with conserving our energy resources, it is also important that we protect another treasured national resource--our wilderness areas and the many varieties of plant and animal life which thrive uniquely in wilderness environments.

With this goal in mind, and pursuant to the Wilderness Act of 1964, I am today proposing twelve additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System. These additions would cover a total of over I million primeval acres of American terrain which still exist today in much the same condition as they existed centuries before the first European set foot in the New World.

Briefly described, they are:

(1) The Joshua Tree National Monument, California--372,700 acres located in the great California Desert. The varied desert terrain included in this tract harbors widely differing plants and animals.

(2) Point Reyes National Seashore, California--10,600 acres on a long narrow peninsula characterized by fine beaches and steep, forested slopes.

(3) Big Bend National Park, Texas-533,900 acres. Encompassing both the lofty Chisos Mountains and large tracts of desert, this area is host to several wildlife habitats and an unusual diversity of plant and animal life.

(4) Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona and California--14,470 acres along the Lower Colorado River. The desert uplands which this proposal would set aside provide a home for wild waterfowl, serving in particular as the wintering habitat of Canada geese of the Great Basin flock.

(5) Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado---8,100 acres. The two portions of the park which would be added to the wilderness system are an eastern section with wildlife including mule deer, cougar, bighorn sheep, wild turkey, and many smaller animals, and a northern area which contains the rugged brow of the Mesa Verde Plateau itself.

(6) Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri--1,700 acres in a former channel of the Mississippi River. The proposed area contains lowland forest vegetation and a natural swamp environment.

(7) Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon--346 acres located on 26 islands. Nesting ground for thousands of seabirds, these islands, plus two existing wilderness areas with which they will be consolidated, lie along the beautiful Oregon coast.

(8) White River National Wildlife Refuge, Arkansas--975 acres. Located in an area known as the Scrub Grass Bayou Research Area, the recommended acreage comprises bottomland hardwood forest.

(9) Saguaro National Monument, Arizona--42,400 acres. This proposal would set aside splendid stands of the giant saguaro cactus and other desert resources, as well as rugged mountainous areas with regional vegetation and wildlife.

(10) Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico--21,110 acres. The monument was once the home of prehistoric Pueblo Indians. The proposal encompasses many archeological sites and a great deal of rugged terrain providing habitat for deer, bear, mountain lion and other large mammals.

(11) Valentine National Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska--16,317 acres characterized by the sandhill range, an Unusual geological formation in need of preservation. The refuge is populated by several threatened bird species and a variety of other wildlife.

(12) Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Nebraska--24,502 acres which provide a pristine sandhill habitat for mule deer, antelope, and such rare bird species as the bald eagle and golden eagle. After a review of roadless areas of 5,000 acres or. more, the Secretary of the Interior has concluded that two areas are not suitable for preservation as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. These are the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma, and the Klamath Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon.

In addition to this message, I am transmitting to the Congress today letters and reports from the Secretary of the Interior regarding all of these wilderness proposals. I concur with the recommendation of the Secretary in each case.

I would draw to the attention of the Congress once again the eastern wilderness legislation which we recently submitted. This proposal--which is now embodied in legislation labeled S. 2487 and H.R. 10469

--would amend the Wilderness Act to designate 16 acres in eastern national forest lands as wilderness on an immediate basis and would subject 37 other areas to study for possible addition to the wilderness system. I urge the Congress to give early and favorable consideration to this proposal, as well as the wilderness proposals accompanying this message.


The White House,

November 28, 1973.

Note: The White House also issued the Secretary of the Interior's letters and Interior Department reports on the 14 wilderness proposals.

On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing on the President's message. Participants in the news briefing were Rogers C. B. Morton, Secretary, E. U. Curtis Bohlen, Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Stanley W. Hulett, Associate Director of Legislation, National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

Richard Nixon, Message to the Congress Proposing Establishment of New Wilderness Areas. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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