April 28, 2014
The outside is in – as the Silver City Museum in cooperation with the Gila National Forest present this new exhibit opening on Saturday, May 24, 2014, from 11 am to 2 pm. The Silver City Museum is located at 312 W. Broadway in Silver City.
“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild, and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the World.” Henry David Thoreau.
The people of Silver City and Southwest New Mexico played an important role in both the establishment and preservation of the Gila Wilderness in 1924 and in the passage and signing of the Wilderness Act by President Johnson in 1964. This year, the nation is celebrating both of these important events.
1924: Gila Wilderness Designation
On June 3, 1924, the U.S. Forest Service established a new administrative tradition and set aside the nation’s first wilderness area. With the designation of 750,000 acres of the Gila National Forest as the Gila Wilderness, the Forest Service extended itself in a conservation direction promoted by Aldo Leopold, Arthur Carhart, and other agency staff.
By Leopold’s vision, wilderness would contain large tracts of undeveloped land and an opportunity to step away from automobiles, asphalt, and the hurried, mechanized lives Americans increasingly were leading.
The Gila later became one of the original areas included in the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act.
On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people.
Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America’s support for wilderness, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines “Wilderness” as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain.
Visitors to the Gila Wild exhibit will explore the passage of these events, the land, the people, places and things that have ventured in and out of our neighboring wilderness areas. The exhibit will also have engaging hands-on discovery stations with activities for children and adults outlining the “Leave No Trace” principles. The seven principles provide a framework that helps public land visitors understand and practice their own minimum impact ethic, regardless of whether they are on a day hike, or a month-long mountaineering expedition.
The public is invited to an opening reception with light refreshments from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, May 24. Ray Torres, District Ranger of the Wilderness District, will provide opening remarks and be available during the opening to answer questions about the Gila Wilderness. Smokey Bear will also be available to greet visitors to the exhibit.
The exhibit will remain on view through December. Throughout the year, guest speakers, community organizations, and even a mule or two will be providing a schedule of lectures and family fun activities as we celebrate the Gila Wild. A special birthday for Smokey Bear is being planned, too.
Excerpts within this press release were provided courtesy of the U. S. Forest Service.
Funding in part for all exhibits and programs at the museum is made possible by the generous support of the members and volunteers of the Silver City Museum Society.