Wilderness plays a profound role in the lives of humans, animals and other forms of life on the planet. It is valued for its spiritual, cultural, aesthitic, recreational and conservational values. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines it as;
- "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value."
- Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind, (3rd ed. 1982), the standard intellectual history
- Short, C. Brant. Ronald Reagan and the Public Lands: America's Conservation Debate (1989).
- Strong, Douglas H. Dreamers & Defenders: American Conservationists. (1988) online edition, good biographical studies of the major leaders
- Turner, James Morton, "The Specter of Environmentalism": Wilderness, Environmental Politics, and the Evolution of the New Right. The Journal of American History 96.1 (2009): 123-47 online at History Cooperative
- http://www.cwcs.org/1964.html - The Wilderness Act of 1964 - Public Law 88-577, 78 Stat. 890, 16 U.S.C. 1131-1136