Mayor Eric Garcetti will issue a proclamation commemorating the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Wilderness Act, the first legislation of its kind in the world. On Earth Day, April 22, the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter in partnership with Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge will host an event at 3-Mile Tree in Griffith Park.
“The City of Los commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the landmark federal Wilderness Act by proclaiming the significance of our National Wilderness Preservation System to the City of Los Angeles’ cultural, scientific, historical, cultural and spiritual heritage,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking in issuing the proclamation. “In this golden anniversary year of 2014, we invite all Angelenos to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the continuing protection of our precious natural treasures.”
"Every day is Earth Day! This commemoration in Griffith Park reminds us that we are fortunate enough to celebrate Earth Day in one of the greatest parks in Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Tom LaBonge. “Let's continue to enjoy, protect and take care of this beautiful park."
The Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964, creating America’s National Wilderness Preservation System and setting aside 9.1 million acres of wildlands for “the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will . . . provide for the protection of these areas and the preservation of their wilderness character.” Over the past 50 years, Congress has added more than 100 million acres of federal lands to the wilderness system.
“Since the days of John Muir, people have worked diligently to protect wild places -- and for 50 years the Wilderness Act has been an effective tool to help them do it,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement read at the event. “America’s wilderness is a living legacy that all Americans should have the opportunity to experience. As we celebrate, we recognize the value and importance of securing the legacy of the Wilderness Act for generations to come.”
The Wilderness Act defines Wilderness as areas where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,” with untrammeled meaning left wild and free from human control or manipulation. Wilderness designation provides the strongest and most permanent protection that our laws offer for Wilderness values such as adventure, solitude, clean air and water, scenery, wildlife, and scientific understanding of how the natural world works when left alone.
“Building Bridges to the Outdoors is an initiative of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter that promotes the positive benefits of outdoor experiences on children’s academic achievement and provides youngsters with leadership skills to create positive social change within their community,” said Bill Vanderberg, chair of the Building Bridges to the Outdoors Committee, accompanied by LAUSD students from Foshay Learning Center. “This effort illustrates Sierra Club’s commitment to promoting diversity and our mission to enjoy, explore and protect wild places.”
Following the proclamation, Councilmember Tom LaBonge will lead a hike from the urban wilderness of Griffith Park to Mt. Hollywood peak, with vistas of Los Angeles’ local wilderness areas. The hike embodies what Sierra Club’s outings program has long know about the importance of protecting wilderness -- from John Muir on, people speak up for the places they care about – and taking them there is a powerful way to get them to care. The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter has long been in the forefront of drawing attention to protected places and places that need to be saved from development.
Joining the festivities are representatives from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Forest Service, LAUSD students from "Foshay Learning Center" (grades 5-12), and environmental and community partners including L.A. Conservation Corps, City Plants (formerly Million Trees), Breathe LA, Council for Watershed Health, Pacoima Beautiful, The Nature Conservancy, LA River Revitalization Corps, The River Project.
—Sierra Club Angeles Chapter