This Week in Geographic History: The Wilderness Act

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We’re slowing down for the summer! Instead of our usual roundup of “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events, here’s a closer look at one historic event that connects to something in the news today. We’ve also matched it with a map or visual, background information, and additional resources.

Sunday, September 3

MM7933 - Vermilion Cliffs
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona is one of the national monuments that President Trump has asked the Department of the Interior to review. Photograph by Richard Barnes, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Wilderness Act is Signed into Law

National parks, monuments, and forests in the U.S. are all protected under the 1964 Act, which also included an official definition of wilderness.

Current Event: Four U.S. National Monuments Targeted for Review

The review will determine if these monuments will be reduced in size, opening up previously protected areas to commercial industries like mining and logging.


National Monuments Under Review


“What You Need to Know about the National Monument Rethink”

National Park Service created

The National Park Service prepares for climate change

NG Education resources on national parks

What is a wilderness area?

Discussion Questions:  

  1. What do you think is the most compelling reason to protect national parks, monuments, and forests?
  2. What do you think is motivating the Trump administration to review these areas? (Answers here.)

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