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2003 - Ruth Newhall, longtime co-owner/editor of The Signal, dies in Berkeley [story]


Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Mar 2, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelThis year, 2014, is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Prior to 1964, we didn’t have any designated wilderness, nor did we have an idea of what wilderness should be. This bill revolutionized land protections and conservation. Howard Zahniser, its author, changed all that, giving us a legal definition.

The Wilderness Act was signed into law Sept. 3, 1964, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. When he signed the law, he said: “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

For an area to become wilderness, it must have this federal designation.

Most people think any open space is wilderness. This is not so. Every designated acre of wilderness must be fully vetted, mapped, photographed and held to the highest quality of the definition of wilderness.

A “wilderness” designation was created as a way for all Americans to preserve the most pristine wild lands in every state, for every resident and for future generations.

 

Magic Mountain southwest of Newhall (not the amusement park)

Magic Mountain northeast of Newhall (not the amusement park) | Photos by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel

What is wilderness?

The Wilderness Act of 1964 defined wilderness 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 it’s 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.”

Wilderness prohibits roads, vehicles, anything that is mechanized, structures, mining, logging and other destructive practices. It allows hiking, camping, backpacking, equestrian use, fishing, hunting, free climbing, adventure hiking, snow shoeing and more.

Dagger Flats (Bear Divide area)

Dagger Flats (Bear Divide area)

Approximately five years ago, Republican Congressman Buck McKeon and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer worked together to accomplish the largest wilderness bill ever, in California. They protected 470,000 acres in the Eastern Sierra and two local areas. The local wilderness includes the Magic Mountain Wilderness and Pleasant View Ridge. Both of these areas in the Angeles National Forest are outstanding examples of pristine wilderness.

In the spirit of the 1964 Wilderness Act, and in celebration of the upcoming anniversary, the Community Hiking Club will be restoring a trail that has not been in use for nearly 30 years. We plan to hike this trail with the community Sept. 6, 2014, to celebrate the wilderness anniversary.

If you would like to help us refurbish this trail, please contact me at zuliebear@aol.com. If you would like to hike the trail with us in September, email me and ask to be put on the email list.

“We must embrace Mother Nature. She is our friend. We must never make nature our enemy, for we will surely lose that battle. When Mother Nature calls on you for help, listen to her. Take care of all living things, from the largest ocean, to the smallest creature.” – A.D. Williams.

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy.

 

 

wilder_PVR 24

Pleasant View Ridge

wilder_IMG_3790wilder_IMG_6118

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

Dagger Flats

Dagger Flats

 

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