Perhaps not at the top of list for politicking in the steamy race for the U.S. Presidency, wilderness remains a priority for the current Administration and will be on the agenda for the next Congress. President Barack Obama has declared September as National Wilderness Month for the fourth year in a row, recognizing the immense contribution wilderness makes to the quality of life of every American.
As heated campaign debates focus on jobs, healthcare, and a “better life” four years from now, we can use National Wilderness Month to highlight ways that protecting wild nature in part helps address these aspirations. According the Outdoor Industry Association, recreation generates over 6 million jobs, and the industry is growing at a rate of 5 percent a year. Economic benefits also come from property values enhanced by the scenic backdrop of wilderness and tourism revenue to communities that host visitors to protected areas. Ecological services to humans from wilderness such as clean water and air and opportunities for exercise and relaxation all contribute to human health. Cherishing wilderness by valuing and protecting more of it will improve our way of living in the next four years. The WILD Foundation will place heavy emphasis on the contribution of wild nature to human quality of life in both cities and rural areas at WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress (Salamanca, Spain, October 2013).
President Obama states in his proclamation, “Generations of visionary leaders and communities have given of themselves to preserve our wild landscapes, fulfilling a responsibility that falls to us all as Americans…” We should not forget this legacy as politicians forget to make mention of nature in campaign speeches. Wild nature remains the “life support” for all of humanity (see NatureNeedsHalf.org).