Fifty years ago this week, on September 3, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. Originally setting aside 9 million acres, the preserved area has grown to 110 million acres since that date, most of which are in the western United States. This is a great achievement and one the United States is rightly proud of.
Included in the preserved land mass are two wilderness areas in New Jersey: Brigantine Wilderness along the New Jersey Coast and The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness in Morris County. A link displaying a map of all the lands under the aegis of the National Wilderness Preservation System is here.
The Wilderness Act’s definition of wilderness is as follows: “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value” [excerpted from http://www.wilderness.net/nwps/legisact].
The 11th District and Morris County’s Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen, authored an essay published at NJ.com (the link for the essay is here) , extolling the efforts of his father, former Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen, as well as the rightly revered Helen Fenske in preserving the Great Swamp from the misguided thinking of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That entire story is recounted elsewhere, most notably in Cam Cavanaugh’s book: Saving the Great Swamp: the people, the power brokers, and an urban wilderness, available in libraries in Morris and Somerset Counties.
mocosocoBirds attempts to stay above political comments and remain focused on birds and nature but the current Congressman Frelinghuysen’s essay compels this writer to shed some reality on Mr. Frelinghuysen’s own congressional voting history. His thoughts and reflections on his father and the Great Swamp, and any actions of his own benefiting the Great Swamp, are certainly appreciated, but the reality of his own environmental voting record in Congress speaks a different story as it is less than stellar and, frankly, rather poor overall. See his record here as presented by the League of Conservation Voters. NJ. com refers to Rodney Frelinghuysen as the “Conservationist’s son”. Unfortunately, the son’s voting record clearly shows that he is no conservationist.
Other links regarding the Wilderness Act are at the following web sites:
Wilderness.net where the Wilderness Act can be downloaded as a PDF.