Mike Matz, director of the Pew Environment Group's wilderness campaign, issued the following statement on President Obama's proclamation of September as National Wilderness Month.
"By proclaiming September as National Wilderness Month, President Obama is recognizing the important role our country's most cherished wild spaces play in our lives. Wilderness areas are the places we hike, hunt, fish, and find unmatched solitude. They remind us of our natural heritage and enhance the American spirit.
"September marks the anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the law that has helped Americans safeguard their most beloved wild public lands. All but one Congress since then has built upon that legacy for future generations to use and enjoy and experience as we do today.
"It is vital that we carry on our country's wilderness tradition. Right now, Congress has a chance to forever protect over 2.3 million acres of public land in bipartisan bills that are pending in the House and Senate. This legislation includes iconic places such as the Olympic National Forest in Washington, the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest and Sleeping Bear Dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan.
"As we celebrate our nation's diverse and unique wild landscapes, we urge Congress to act to safeguard these places for our children's grandchildren."