A 3,360-acre section of Glacier National Park in Montana, shown here in early October 2008, was among the first lands to be recommended for wilderness designation after the Wilderness Act of 1964.

Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Ryan Hagerty

The United States Wilderness Act of 1964 created 54 wilderness areas (9.1 million acres) in national forests, and established a National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). Philosophers J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson (1998) claim that the definition of wilderness in this act is the classic expression of the “received wilderness idea,” an idea that is fraught with problems and has been under attack for decades.

Wilderness preservation in the United States is often defined as the creation and management of national parks, but this is not correct. ...

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