The Wilderness Act, a cornerstone of America’s conservation laws, marks its 50th anniversary on September 3rd. The act established the National Wilderness Preservation System, which represents America’s most wild and pristine federally protected lands. Today, these lands encompass 758 wilderness areas covering more than 109 million acres in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
To celebrate this important anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has opened a new photography exhibition, “Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places,” which runs through summer 2015. The exhibition was developed in conjunction with Nature’s Best Photography and Wilderness50; a coalition of government agencies, conservation and community organizations and academic institutions collectively celebrating the anniversary nationwide.
“Wilderness Forever” is a juried photography competition that celebrates the majesty, diversity and value of the nation’s wilderness areas. More than 5,000 entries were submitted by professional, amateur and youth photographers from across the nation and world. Fifty winning entries are displayed as awe-inspiring large-format prints. The exhibition also features a fossil skull of Bistahieversor sealeyi, a species of tyrannosaur discovered on wilderness lands; interactive touch-screen maps of wilderness created by Esri; and stories that highlight the importance of protecting wilderness.
Below is a small sample of the stunning imagery that is featured in the new exhibition courtesy of Nature's Best Photography. To learn more about the show and to vote on your favorite photos, visit Smithsonian.com. Each month, the public will be able to view all 60 photo finalists and vote to select their favorite as often as once per day for the duration of the exhibition. The photograph with the most votes will be featured as the Photo of the Day and declared the People's Choice winner for that month. Enjoy these images and happy voting!