October 2014

The Wilderness Act’s 50th Anniversary

The Wilderness Act is a system of land preservation that today includes almost 110 million acres around the United States and 1.6 million acres in New Mexico.


National Wilderness Conference, Oct. 15–19, Albuquerque


Held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the National Wilderness Conference is the first national gathering of wilderness advocates, stewards, educators and researchers in 25 years. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 and ending at noon on Oct. 19, this event at the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque includes plenary speakers and panelists such as author Terry Tempest Williams, Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell (invited), advocate and New Mexico Wilderness Alliance board member Dave Foreman and University of New Mexico Native American educator Dr. Greg Cajete. The opening ceremony and reception will feature Native American performances, a video welcome from former President Jimmy Carter and a keynote address by New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich. There will be 84 presenter sessions and a poster session exploring contemporary topics in wilderness management such as civic engagement, stewardship, science, education, experience and history.


There will also be two days of for-credit preconference training, over 20 field trips to New Mexico wilderness areas and cultural sites, a sponsor and partner exhibit hall, K-12 teacher workshops, and a two-night People’s Wilderness Film Gala. For more information and registration rates, call 505.843.8696 or visit wilderness50th.org


Free “Get Wild” Festival, Oct. 18, 2–10 p.m. on Civic Plaza


Held outdoors on Oct. 18, from 2-10 p.m. in conjunction with the National Wilderness Conference, the “Get Wild” Festival will be a free outdoor public event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Arranged in a family-friendly, fair-like setting, the festival will include live educational presentations, performances and interactive activities that promote responsible outdoor recreation and wilderness stewardship.

The festival will open with Diné (Navajo) contemporary flute player Andrew Thomas. Speakers include Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, and Juan Martínez, National Geographic explorer and director of the Natural Leaders Network.

Activities will include the Wilderness Awareness Trail, a station-based immersion-learning experience for children led by Youth Leader Scholarship Program recipients; Leave No Trace, horse-packing and survival-skills demonstrations; traditional archery hunting, backcountry cooking, including a cook-off using recipes from the new Wilderness Ranger Cookbook; a climbing wall and fishing ponds; Girl and Boy Scout encampments; and a Wilderness Jr. Ranger booth. There will also be wildlife ambassadors, a crosscut saw demonstration showcasing the proper use and history of traditional tools used in wilderness trail maintenance; and an Aldo Leopold impersonator, giving the history of wilderness.

There will be live music, including mariachi and local bands; Le Chat Lunatique, Animal Opera; and Let it Grow, as well as campfire chautauquas (storytellers) and acoustic fireside musicians. Other attractions include participatory sand art depicting endangered species and wilderness art by local students, a Wilderness Passport Scavenger Hunt, free marshmallows and prizes and a bike valet. Food trucks will be on-site.


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