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3.4 Million Nevada Acres Protected as Wilderness Act Turns 45

September 3. 2009

LAS VEGAS - It was 45 years ago today (Thursday) that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. Since then, it has preserved more than 100 million acres of public land in the United States, including nearly 3.4 million acres in Nevada.

John Wallin, director of the Nevada Wilderness Project, calls the law "one of the most important civic engagement lessons in U.S. history," because it gives everyday citizens the tools to petition the government to protect wildlife habitat, as well as some of the country's best spots for outdoor recreation.

"The fact that the Wilderness Act has given us a system of conservation that's the envy of the world is a real credit, because it's created by Americans for Americans, who so enjoy these public lands."

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution commemorating the Wilderness Act anniversary - and this weekend, says Wallin, Nevadans can thank the legislation for many of their Labor Day hiking, camping and outdoor options.

"Nevadans who enjoy going out to Mt. Charleston, outside of Las Vegas; the Muddy Mountains or the Mormon Mountains; or up in Reno, when they go out to the Mt. Rose Wilderness - without the Wilderness Act you would not have these places protected today."

In fact, he adds, Nevada is home to some of the first land protected by the Wilderness Act. The Jarbidge Wilderness in the mountains near Elko was part of the nine million acres first designated as wilderness 45 years ago.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV