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WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240-0036
December 12, 2012
In Reply To:
6300 (WO-400) P
Information Bulletin No. 2013-021 

To:                  All Washington Office and Field Office Officials

From:              Director                       

Subject:          The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

In 2014 America will celebrate the “50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act” as it commemorates the golden anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for 222 wilderness areas, covering 8.6 million acres in 10 western states. Our agency’s wilderness areas are uniquely diverse, encompassing deserts, islands, forests, mountains and they are large and small, and in remote and near-urban areas. Nearly half of the BLM wilderness areas are found in the deserts of Arizona, California and Nevada.   Although the BLM is the newest agency to oversee wilderness beginning in 1976, we have a rich culture of wilderness stewardship. With our wilderness areas making up almost 30 percent of the National Landscape Conservation System, this system provides long term protection of our natural landscapes. The BLM also manages over 500 wilderness study areas, and the likelihood of future wilderness designations that will continue to strengthen the NWPS is high.

The new wilderness policy approved in July of this year has positioned the BLM well for stewardship of its wilderness areas for the 50th anniversary and beyond. The new policy requires the BLM to monitor changes in wilderness character.  With baseline inventory completed on 25 percent of all BLM’s wildernesses, we are on target to finish baseline data collection on all BLM wilderness areas by 2014. This data gathering effort will reach more extensive areas than the efforts of all the other wilderness management agencies combined.

During the historic anniversary year, we are strongly committed to educating Americans, particularly youth, about key wilderness benefits—clean air and water, critical wildlife habitat, outstanding opportunities for recreation, spiritual renewal and regeneration. To accomplish this goal, the BLM is playing a key role in the 50th Anniversary National Wilderness Planning Team (Wilderness50), a coalition of over 20 organizations including the four Federal wilderness management agencies, universities, and wilderness-related non-profit organizations. On August 23, the BLM joined the Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, and national wilderness non-profit organizations in publically signing a memorandum of understanding formally committing to spotlighting and celebrating the Nation’s wilderness system in the months leading up to the Wilderness Act’s anniversary—September 3, 2014.  To fulfill this commitment, state wilderness leads have identified individuals to assist with local 50th anniversary event planning.  I am encouraging full participation by these and all BLM employees—within the context and limits of regular duties—in the planning and facilitation of local awareness and education events, such as walks-for-wilderness. These local events should be planned with assistance from Wilderness50 and in cooperation with our wilderness stewardship partners:  the Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, and non-profit organizations and friends groups.

Since the power to protect wilderness for the next 50 years lies not only in our commitment to wilderness stewardship but in grassroots support, participating in the planning of local community events will ensure that our agency helps raise awareness of wilderness values at home in the communities where we all live.


Signed by:                                                        Authenticated by:
Mike Pool                                                          Robert M. Williams
Acting, Director                                                 Division of IRM Governance,WO-560

Last updated: 12-13-2012