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Authors

Neil Kagan

Abstract

In 1984, Congress preserved 8.2 million acres of roadless federal lands as "wilderness," nearly matching the acreage set aside in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Congress also created the most new wilderness areas ever in a single year, by far. Wilderness Connect, Number of Wilderness Areas Designated by Year, https://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/chartResults?chartType=UnitsByDesigYear.

Two lawsuits brought in 1983 proved to be the catalyst responsible for breaking the years-long impasse that had previously stymied the protection of these pristine wildlands. The lawsuits also pushed Congress to preserve more wildlands as wilderness than it would have otherwise.

This article describes the lawsuits, their historical context, and their impact, showing the direct links between activism, the litigation, and the legislation. Interwoven is a love story that wraps with the brave end of a sparkling life – the life of the woman who was vital to the prosecution of the lawsuits.

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