Wilderness Values

The greatest resource of Jenny Lake and Grand Teton National Park is the natural environment. Stewardship of this wild place, along with the protection and preservation of the flora, fauna, and aesthetic scenery, must be our top priority. Wilderness appreciation begins with a connection to the land through exploration and a deeper understanding of the surrounding ecosystem. We must also understand the rarity and scarcity of truly unique wild places among an ever more urbanized society. The true meaning of wilderness is an area unadulterated by man and his creations. Land without the imposition of human embellishment and development is truly rare. The Wilderness Act of 1964 sought to assert this very philosophy and overall protection of our natural resources. Jenny Lake and Grand Teton National Park work in unison to preserve, protect, and promote wilderness values. We have a moral responsibility to park visitors and future generations, to be the environmental stewards of this wild place.

An excerpt from the Wilderness Act of 1964

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.

Congress has now designated more than 106 million acres of federal public lands as wilderness: 44 million of these acres are in 47 parks and total 53 percent of National Park System lands. Additional national park areas are managed as “recommended” or “proposed” wilderness until Congress acts on their status. 

Approximately 5% of the entire United States is protected and designated as wilderness. This is an area slightly larger than the state of California. However, Alaska contains just about half of America’s wilderness. The lower 48 states only account for about 2.7% of designated wilderness, an area the size of Minnesota.

The connection to place starts with our employees. Most of our staff has self-select to work in this natural environment. We strive to further a love and appreciation of it in our employees. The overall philosophy, mission, and purpose of Jenny Lake Boating represents the best interests of the environment, Jenny Lake, and Grand Teton National Park as a whole. Only then, can our employees truly share their appreciation and impart the importance of it to our guests.

Suggested Reading-

-Along the Ramparts of The Tetons-The Saga of Jackson Hole, Wyoming-By Robert B. Betts

-Walden-By Henry David Thoreau

-A Sand County Almanac- By Aldo Leopold

-Nature(essay)- By Ralph Waldo Emerson

-Desert Solitaire- By Edward Abbey

Wilderness Facts:

National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS)

Q: What is a designated “Wilderness Area”?

A:  Land designated by Congress at the highest level of conservation and protection

Q: Why are “Wilderness Areas” important?

A:  Protecting “Wilderness Areas” preserves and protects natural ecosystems, in their natural state, to remain wild.  Designated Wilderness are areas “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Q: How many wilderness areas are there in the NWPS?

765 wilderness areas

Q: What is the total acreage of the NWPS?

109,142,230 acres

Q: Where is the largest area of contiguous wilderness?

In this context, contiguous means wilderness land that is unbroken by any exempted corridors. In Alaska, the Noatak and Gates of the Arctic Wildernesses (12,743,329 acres) make up the largest area of unbroken wilderness. In the lower 48 states, the largest area of unbroken wilderness is found along the Sierra/Nevada crest in California. This area contains multiple wildernesses totalling over 2,400,000 acres.

Q: What states have the most wildernesses?

California, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon

Q: What states have the most wilderness acres?

Alaska, California, Arizona, Idaho, Washington

Q: Which agency manages the most wilderness acres?

National Park Service

  • Every footprint matters
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