Hike Through 50 Years of Wilderness Protection

Published: November 04, 2014 | Author: Alex Homer | Category: Special Events

As the celebration of the 50-year anniversary of the Wilderness Act signing rolls on, Southern Utah University is celebrating with a Wild Perspectives Forum from November 5 to November 7.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was passed to create the legal definition of wilderness in the U.S. and protected 9.1 million acres of federal land. The Act has gone on to protect  areas where natural processes prevail, and are undeveloped, untrammeled, and offer opportunities for solitude and primitive/unconfined types of recreation according to Briget Eastep, SUU Outdoor Engagement Center director. 

Forum administrator David Whitmore, SUU Outdoor Education Series intern, added, “What we want to accomplish with this forum is celebrating wilderness through education. This event is a lot about education and how it affects us and where wilderness is going and how we manage it.”

Whitmore went on to say that many events that are focused around wilderness are intended to be fun and outdoors, but this forum is more about education and helping the public understand the importance of wilderness.

Southern Utah, has a vast amount of wilderness, including Ashdown Gorge, Cottonwood Wilderness area and several areas around the edges of Zion National Park are just a few places near SUU that are designated wilderness areas through the Wilderness Act.  

“Through the Wilderness Forum, I am hoping that participants will become more aware of what wilderness is and what they can do to help preserve it,” said Whitmore.

Not only is the forum intended for the celebration of wilderness, but it is also incorporating the arts in the outdoors. One exhibit will be a special showing of 2D artwork focusing on southern Utah’s wilderness areas. The exhibit will be displayed in the Hunter Conference Center starting the day of the forum through January 31, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

“This is an interesting event because we are mixing the government side of wilderness — the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the National Parks Service —with the public here,” said Whitmore. “We have really important artists coming that have all donated work that deals with local wilderness.”

As part of the forum, there will also be a Pizza & Politics event to discuss restricting access since 1964 because of the Act. Chris Barns, BLM representative at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, will lead the discussion on Wednesday, November 5 at noon in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Living Room, free pizza for those who attend. 

On the schedule will be the Wild Perspectives Keynote Addresses and reception Wednesday, November 5, where two speakers will address the audience, Barns and Arlene Braithwaite, commissioned artist by the Dixie National Forest, who creates art focused on wilderness. This will begin at 6 p.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall within the Hunter Conference Center. Following the event will be an art invitational open to all in the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery from 7-8 p.m., where Arlene Braithwaite will be in attendance. 

The convocation on Thursday, Nov. 6 in the Sterling Church Auditorium will be titled: Where the Wild Voices Are: A Literary Perspective on Wilderness, and be given by Elena Passarello, a wilderness author.

These events are sponsored by the SUU Outdoor Engagement Center in partnership with the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics, Convocations Lecture Series, the Dixie National Forest, and the Cedar City BLM.

View the entire forum schedule HERE. To register for the forum, go to SUU Outdoors or RSVP to 435-865-8400 or visit suuwildernesseducator@gmail.com. A catered lunch will be given on November 5 for a $20 fee, but all other events are free.  

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