What’s left in America to call “wilderness”? It turns out that only 5% of the United States is labeled as wilderness and protected under the National Wilderness Preservation System. If you're just counting the contiguous U.S., that number drops to 2.7%.
I recently came across this information in the latest issue of National Geographic and saw a map of the country that caught my eye. The specific article [50 Years of Wilderness] is available to read online if you aren't a subscriber.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
I'm not sure what that means to you but I can tell you what it means to me. This map made me realize that even though there's not that much left in America that's "wild" (if you're counting the green vs. white places on the map), I desperately want to visit, experience, or live in as many green spots as possible.
As Ansel Adams once said:
"In truth, 'Wilderness' is a state of mind and heart. Very little exists now in actuality."Despite only 5% of wild America left, it can live on in our hearts as long as we maintain an adventurous attitude. Yeah that totally sounds cheesy as I read it back but you get the idea.
If you want to see a slightly more interactive version of the map above, click here.