Just a few months after taking office, President Obama has already put his name up there with the greatest presidents for public land protection by signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act. The huge legislative package creates the largest addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System in over a decade and one of the biggest public land conservation measures ever. It designates more than 2 million acres of wilderness in California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Michigan. It also codifies the National Landscape Conservation System, which currently protects 26 million acres of natural treasures managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The most significant provision for wilderness lovers in the Great Lakes region is protection of the Beaver Basin Wilderness within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior. It includes over 11,000 acres of wilderness in one of the great places on earth. If you’ve never been to Pictured Rocks, now you have another reason to go. Wilderness areas should be protected but also enjoyed. Recall this timeless advice from the great writer and activist Edward Abbey:
One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.