, 2000

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JUNE 21, 1999  9;30 AM
The Wilderness Society
Gisele McAuliffe, 202-429-2642
Ben Beach, 202-429-2655
Sabrina Williams,
The Wilderness Society Issues '15 Most Endangered Wild Lands' 1999 Report
WASHINGTON - June 21 - The Wilderness Society (TWS) released its 1999 report of the country's "15 Most Endangered Wild Lands" on Monday.

This third annual listing of endangered national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands nationwide, describes the risks facing each site and recommendations for protecting them.

The most prolific threats to the 15 wild lands are: over-logging, oil and gas development; off-road vehicle use; noise pollution from motorized ground and air vehicles; over-grazing; too much commercial development, noise from military training planes and tourist helicopters; misinterpreted land use laws; and the lack of legal environmental protections.

"While the threats to each area are serious, Americans can do much to protect these national treasures for generations to come," said TWS President William H. Meadows. "All of us need to become familiar with the wild lands in our local areas and how they are being managed. Additionally, citizens should support crucial legislation to protect these special lands. With concerted action, the battle to protect these areas can be won."

From Florida to Alaska, from northern Maine to southern California, the American people have a legacy that includes millions of acres of wild lands -- mountains, parks, forests, rivers, deserts -- along with all the plants, wildlife and majestic natural wonders they hold. As this nation's urban and suburban areas creep ever-outward, natural America's mosaic of public and private lands stretching from coast to coast becomes an even more precious source of unparalleled beauty, providing opportunities for recreation and spiritual renewal, sources of clean air and clean drinking water, and even life-saving medicines. TWS believes there has never been a better time to recognize this great natural gift, and to work together to protect it.

Oil exploration and development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is endangering the area's unique plant and animal life, including some 125 species of migrating birds. Sightseeing flights and motorized recreational activities are destroying the Grand Canyon's natural quiet. Off-road vehicles can now reach deep into wild lands across the country, wreaking havoc by crushing vegetation, causing erosion, and threatening water quality.

This year's endangered wild lands are:

-- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
-- Cascade Crest, Washington
-- Copper River Delta in Chugach National Forest, Alaska
-- The Everglades, Florida
-- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
-- Greater Yellowstone, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
-- Klamath Basin, California and Oregon
-- Maines North Woods
-- Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests, Wyoming and Colorado
-- Mojave National Preserve, California
-- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia and Florida
-- Owyhee Canyonlands, Idaho
-- Sierra Nevada Old-Growth Forest, California
-- The Sonoran Desert, Arizona
-- The Utah Wilderness

In addition to the 15 featured sites, TWS compiled a "watch" list of three locations that merit great concern, including: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska; Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina; and Tongass National Forest, Alaska.

Founded in 1935, the Wilderness Society works to protect America's wilderness and to develop a nationwide network of wild lands through public education, scientific analysis, and advocacy. The organization's goal is to ensure that future generations enjoy the clean air and water, beauty, wildlife, and opportunity for renewal provided by the pristine forests, rivers, deserts, and mountains owned by all Americans.


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