To culminate a year of activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act, Big Bend National Park will hold a Wilderness Celebration on November 25th.
The event will exhibit activities and skills used by park staff to protect, preserve, and provide for public enjoyment of the vast undeveloped portions of the park. Demonstrations will include mule packing, ranger horse patrol, trail building, crosscut sawing, search-and-rescue, canoeing, fossil research, leave-no-trace camping, dry-stone masonry, and other activities.
The exhibition will be held in the cottonwood grove adjacent to the store at Rio Grande Village, and will be available for visitors and the public to drop by between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964. Johnson described a purpose of the Act at the signing ceremony: “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude… We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
According to Superintendent Cindy Ott-Jones, “The park’s employees are true professionals at working within Big Bend’s proposed wilderness areas. Park staff maintains backcountry trails and facilities to wilderness standards, and oversees and performs research within these wild areas advancing our knowledge of these wild places. Through such efforts, visitors to the park continue to enjoy a wilderness experience.”
The Wilderness Act requires the National Park Service, as well as other federal land management agencies, to maintain undeveloped, road-less natural areas in wilderness condition until Congress considers whether to formally designate those areas. Although many national park units have received congressional action, Big Bend’s proposed wilderness is among those awaiting such action.