(Moose, Wyo.) — Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of Lady Bird and President Lyndon Baines Johnson, served as keynote speaker during a celebration event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed into law by her father in 1964. Nearly 350 people gathered Fridayevening, August 1, at Jackson Lake Lodge—with a scenic backdrop of the Teton peaks rising above Jackson Lake—to enjoy live music, light refreshments, and the company of friends, neighbors and park visitors in commemoration of the landmark legislation that established America’s vast wilderness system. An inspiring, informative, and spirited program paid homage to the Wilderness Act of the 1964 that protected 9.1 million acres of pristine, wild lands for future generations and established a conservation legacy that continues to enrich people’s lives in this 21st century.
Grand Teton National Park, with generous support from Grand Teton Association (the park’s partner of 77 years) organized and hosted the recognition event in part to highlight the influence that the Teton landscape played in the genesis of both the Wilderness Society and the Wilderness Act of 1964. Visionary conservation leaders Olaus and Mardy Murie, Adolph and Louise Murie, Howard Zahniser, Bob Marshall, Aldo Leopold and others gathered often at the Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park during the 1950s and 60s to discuss the value of wild lands and develop a strategy for their long-term protection. The Muries opened their home— located in the shadows of the majestic Tetons—to these conservation leaders and they facilitated thoughtful conversations that led to the passage of the Wilderness Act, principally written by Howard Zahniser. The Muries advanced the lofty ideals of wilderness preservation and their ranch essentially became the western headquarters for the Wilderness Society; furthermore, Olaus served as the first president. Other critical legislation resulted from those important meetings, including the 1977 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act—the greatest preservation act in U.S. history. That act created new national parks and expanded the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
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