1924: Gila Wilderness Designation

On June 3, 1924, the U.S. Forest Service established a new administrative tradition and set aside the nation's first wilderness area. With the designation of 750,000 acres of the Gila National Forest as the Gila Wilderness, the Forest Service extended itself in a conservation direction promoted by Aldo Leopold, Arthur Carhart, and other agency staff.

By Leopold's vision, wilderness would contain large tracts of undeveloped land and an opportunity to step away from automobiles, asphalt, and the hurried, mechanized lives Americans increasingly were leading.

The Gila later became one of the original areas included in the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act.


1974 Press Release: "The Wild Gila - The Story of the Nation's First Wilderness," U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southwestern Region.