(GAINESVILLE) The U.S. Forest Service and many valued partners invite the public to help commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with a celebration in downtown Dahlonega on September 6. The event, titled “Inspiring Stewardship,” will take place from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. in Hancock Park and will include thought-provoking speakers, wilderness experts, vendors, educational exhibits, traditional skills demonstrations, live music and activities for kids. The keynote speaker for the event is Dale Bosworth, who served as Chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 2001 to 2007.
On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act, establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System. As a result of Americans’ support for wilderness over the past 50 years, Congress has added more than 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “Wilderness” as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain.
“The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act provides us all with an opportunity to celebrate the importance of its continued preservation for future generations,” said Betty Jewett, Forest Supervisor of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. “Wilderness benefits everyone, whether you visit a wilderness or simply appreciate the continued existence of areas where the Earth and its community of life are not controlled by humans.”
Georgia has all or portions of 14 Wilderness Areas, ranging from northern mountains to the coast. The Chattahoochee National Forest is home to 10 of these, covering more than 117,000 acres. These include the Cohutta, Mark Trail, Brasstown, Southern Nantahala, Tray Mountain, Rich Mountain, Raven Cliffs, Blood Mountain and Ellicott Rock Wilderness Areas.
Wilderness provides opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, photography, and off-trail exploration.
“Among many benefits, wilderness gives us time to reflect and find solitude and solace to offset the busy world around us, and provides clean water and air, habitat for animals, and healthy landscapes for rare and endangered species to thrive,” said Jewett. “Protecting these special places requires active stewardship and responsible use. Wilderness is everyone’s to share and enjoy.”
Protect wilderness by learning more at www.wilderness.net and being a responsible visitor using Leave No Trace ethics at www.LNT.org. For more information on how to get involved with volunteer efforts on the national forest, contact the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests office at (770) 297-3000 or visit the website at www.fs,usda.gov/conf. Smartphone and tablet users can also view news and events, including volunteer opportunities, by using the forest’s free mobile app. Download the app by visiting www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mobile-app.
The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is part of the Southern Region, with the Forest Supervisor’s office in Gainesville, Georgia, managing four District units in Blairsville (Blue Ridge District), Lakemont (Chattooga River District), Chatsworth (Conasauga District), and Eatonton (Oconee District).