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New Mexico Conservation Project Marks Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary

PHOTO: Conservation projects at New Mexico's Carson National Forest and around the country mark the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Wilderness Act. Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
PHOTO: Conservation projects at New Mexico's Carson National Forest and around the country mark the 50th anniversary of Congress passing the Wilderness Act. Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
September 4, 2014

TAOS, N.M. – A conservation project at Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico is under way in recognition of this week's 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Ben Thomas, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, says the young work crews are thinning about 160 acres of dense forestland to reduce the thick vegetation that can fuel the spread of forest fires.

He adds the Wilderness Act has been critical to preserving some of outdoor treasures of New Mexico and nation.

"It provides federal designation, which is crucial for the level of protection that wilderness areas deserve," Thomas explains.

The Carson National Forest project is part of the Fifty for the 50th campaign, commemorating passage of the Wilderness Act by Congress in 1964.

When completed, the 50 projects will have improved or restored more than 40,000 acres, built 887 miles of trails, and planted 325 acres of trees on public lands.

The campaign is a joint effort of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and The Wilderness Society.

Jamie Williams, the society's president, says wilderness has a special place in American history and the nation's consciousness.

"What America really had that defined it was a continent of wilderness,” he points out. “It was that wilderness that really shaped our character – our rugged individualism that we're still so proud of today, our sense of freedom and possibility."

As America grows and urbanizes more, Williams says he believes there will be even greater need to find peaceful places, such as wilderness areas, where people can reconnect with nature.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM