Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Message to the Congress Transmitting Annual Report on the National Wilderness Preservation System.

January 18, 1969

To the Congress of the United States:

I am pleased to transmit to the Congress the Fifth Annual Report on the status of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Wilderness is at the heart of America's heritage. It has had immeasurable impact on our nation's character, and on those who made its history. Its beauty and majesty have enriched the nation's spirit.

Forty-three years ago, conservationist Aldo Leopold said: "Wilderness certainly cannot be built at will, like a city park or a tennis court .... Neither can a wilderness be grown like timber, because it is something more than trees .... if we want wilderness, we must foresee our want and preserve the proper areas against the encroachment of inimical uses."

In 1964, Congress recognized this need and established 54 National Forest areas as the nucleus of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

During the 90th Congress, I submitted recommendations for 30 additions to the System. Action was completed on four of these during the last year. Another was added in connection with legislation for Washington's North Cascades. Altogether, some 800,000 acres were placed under the permanent protection of the Wilderness Act.

I am now sending to the Congress 13 additional wilderness proposals. One would designate about 323,000 acres within the Ashley and Wasatch National Forests of Utah as the High Uintas Wilderness. The remaining 12 proposals would create wilderness areas within several different wildlife refuges. I am also transmitting the results of Interior Department review of the Bear River Wilderness proposal. The Secretary of the Interior does not recommend wilderness status for this area, and I concur in that recommendation.

I urge early and favorable action on the new proposals as well as on those I submitted previously.

The future character of America depends on what constructive actions we take today. We can destroy our country by neglect, just as surely as we can save its great, God-given beauty by showing true concern.


The White House

January 18, 1969

Lyndon B. Johnson, Message to the Congress Transmitting Annual Report on the National Wilderness Preservation System. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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