Fifty years ago–September 3rd, 1964–the Wilderness Act was signed into law. This might not have happened if it was not for a staunchly conservative Congressman from Pennsylvania named John Saylor. Saylor, whose nickname was “Mr. Conservation,” was perhaps the most pivotal champion of the legislation in the House and deserves much credit for its bi-partisan appeal and almost unanimous passage.

In the decades since, the Wilderness Act has been used to protect over  100 million acres of our nation’s remaining wild lands.  This great accomplishment should be celebrated by all Americans, especially those who care about the future of conservatism.

It was the vast American wilderness that greeted our forefathers which helped to forge our American identity and promote the traditional conservative values  that we hold dear, such as personal responsibility, hard work, humility and faith. Today wilderness still reinforces those values for anyone who wants to explore them.

For that we owe a debt of gratitude to all who helped make the Wilderness Act a reality, and to those who have since used it to protect these spectacular landscapes–which includes John Saylor and the president responsible for signing more wilderness bills into law than any other…Ronald Reagan.

To read more about why conservatives should care about protecting wilderness, check out our Huffington Post piece Why Conservatism Needs Wilderness.

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