On Sept. 3, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law protecting more than 9 million acres of land. The existing system now includes more than 750 areas covering about 5 percent of the United States.
September issue of National Geographic magaz
ine, Michael Melford photographed current and proposed National Wilderness areas.
Above, 40 years before the Wilderness Act, 755,000 acres in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, including the Middle Fork of the Gila River, became the world’s first designated wilderness.
PHOTOS: Revisiting The Ansel Adams Wilderness