In 2014, the United States will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 3, 1964. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of “wildlands” for the use and benefit of the American people. The Wilderness Act defines "wilderness" as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people; where the primary forces of nature are in control; and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain. This act built up on the work of Aldo Leopold, one of the most important conservation thinkers of the 20th century. Born in 1887 and raised in Burlington, Iowa, Leopold graduated from Yale Forest School and pursued a career with the U.S. Forest Service in the then-territories of Arizona and New Mexico. At his urging, the U.S. Forest Service designated the Gila Wilderness, the world’s first wilderness area, in southern New Mexico on June 3, 1924. Leopold was a person who could not “live without wild things” and wrote, “Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher ‘standard of living’ is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free” (forward to A Sand County Almanac, vii, 1949). Please respond to the following: Describe what “wilderness” means to you and your community. ELIGIBILITY All students enrolled in grades 6-12 in public, private, and home schools in the state of New Mexico. Bosque School students are ineligible to apply due to the school’s sponsorship of the contest. Students must submit original work and have a sponsoring teacher sign the contest entry form. One entry per person.