The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and Alabama Wilderness Areas!
On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law – “for the use and enjoyment of the American people.”
During 2014, as the Wilderness Act turns 50, we’ll reflect on the historic value of this major American cultural and environmental achievement. Sierra Club, other wilderness groups, and the four federal wilderness managing agencies are organizing a whole year of celebrations to use the golden anniversary to educate a broader public about the concept and benefits of wilderness.
The 1964 Wilderness Act defines Wilderness as areas where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,” with untrammeled meaning left wild and free from human control or manipulation. Wilderness designation provides the strongest and most permanent protection of our laws for Wilderness values such as adventure, solitude, a respite from the pressures of civilization, clean air and water, scenery, wildlife, and scientific understanding of how the natural world works when left alone.
Only Congress can designate wilderness—by law – and it was the voices of Americans that convinced Congress over the past 50 years to expand the initial 9.1 million acres of wilderness set aside in 54 national forest areas in 13 states to about 109 million acres with 757 areas in 44 states -- wild places in national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and western lands of the Bureau of Land Management.
The Wilderness Act declared it to be the policy of our nation “to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness”. On Sierra Club outings, participants can directly enjoy that benefit. While Sierra Club began long before the Wilderness Act was signed, the basic principles underlying the Act are also the founding principles of the Sierra Club--preserving wild places. And Sierra Club has played a big role in the national wilderness effort from the start. From 1949 to 1975 the Sierra Club hosted a series of biennial wilderness conferences to determine how best to keep wild places the way they were and worked hard on getting the 1964 bill passed. The Sierra Club outings program has always drawn attention to protected places and places that need to be saved from development. Sierra Club outings leaders are among the most passionate supporters of keeping wild places reserved for nature. During 2014 all Sierra Club outings – whether national, international, Chapter or Group, will highlight wilderness to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. (learn more)
The North Alabama Group Educates the Community: be Prepared!
Wilderness First Aid Training: A successful weekend
Eight miles into a hike, the wind is blowing, the sun will set within the hour, there’s a clap of thunder and lightning is seen in the distance. You and your friends walk into an area where trees have recently fallen. Several people are on the ground. Some are moaning, bleeding. Others are unconscious. Although your cell phone miraculously has a signal, because of the conditions, a rescue attempt cannot be made until the following morning. What? Did I hear you’re not a hiker? Then imagine this. Multiple tornados have just caused extensive damage in Alabama. People are trapped in the wreckage but because it is so widespread, and there are fallen trees, downed power lines and debris, rescuers are delayed or in other areas.
Tom Burley, North Alabama’s and the Chapter’s Outings Chair, a certified Red Cross Instructor, and an Outdoorsman extraordinaire, recently conducted a 20-hour Wilderness and Remote First Aid course that was made available to the Sierra Club membership and the local community. With the assistance of his wife, Judy, Tom began Friday evening with CPR/AED training using resuscitation manikins for hands-on practice. The following morning, Tom and Judy arrived early to the training site so attendees could enjoy coffee, morning snacks and time to socialize. A day of intense learning about lifesaving skills began using slides, video, lecture, multiple examples and more hands-on experience with staged outdoor scenarios. Participants rotated through the roles of leadership, victims and providing feedback. Check-Call-Care became the mantra of the day. Is the scene safe? “You, call 9-1-1! Does he have a pulse?"
Day two was even more intense. A seemingly inexhaustible Tom continued to provide instruction, invite questions, and set up thought provoking situations. The granddad of all scenarios involved multiple ‘victims,’ who were each given a script of ailments and props to simulate a chest wound, a bone protruding through the skin, bleeding from the ear, and more. A group of ‘hikers’ out for a pleasant stroll in the woods were sought out by Judy, who maintained an award winning hysterical performance throughout the ordeal. The ‘victims’ were ‘found,’ the scene determined safe, and newly learned first aid skills applied as the scenario evolved and the unexpected happened. It became an adrenaline pumping moment.