Millions of people visit wilderness each year on their own or with an outfitter or guide to hike, ride horses, hunt, fish, ski, float rivers, take pictures and stargaze. Many visitors welcome wilderness not only for the self-reliant, challenging recreational experiences it provides but as a haven, a refuge from fast-paced, developed society – a place to reconnect with oneself and with the land.
In addition to outstanding opportunities for primitive recreation, Americans value wilderness areas as sources of clean water and air, places to see wildlife in a natural setting and as a legacy to pass to their children.
Citizens drink water that flows from wilderness areas and breathe air that is replenished by the filtering action of plants and forest found there. Wildlife abounds in wilderness where natural processes give rise to the rich biodiversity so critical to the health of the global environment. Economically, counties with wilderness generally have higher income and employment growth rates. A uniquely American idea, wilderness is part of America’s heritage and passed as a legacy to our children. For many Americans, just knowing wilderness is there inspires pride and a sense of responsibility.
Wilderness contributes to the ecologic, economic and social health and well being of our citizens, our country and our world. The benefits wilderness areas provide are as diverse as the areas themselves. Recognizing these diverse values opens a world of understanding about our natural world. In addition to the incredible recreational opportunities available in wilderness, wilderness preservation has many other important values. The Wilderness Act specified that wilderness "may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, education, scenic, or historical value."
To explore the benefits of wilderness areas in more depth, visit www.wilderness.net.