ilderness WAir and Quality

The Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System to “…secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring of wilderness.”

While the benefits of wilderness are systems that clean them naturally. As many, the value of clean air and water world populations increase, clean air and is a benefit evident to almost everyone water will become more valuable to the across all . People, and nation and the world because increased rely on clean air and water, and development often degrades air wilderness areas are sources of clean and . air and water via the wild, undisturbed

Why Wilderness Is Important to Air and Water Quality

Wilderness areas are largely free from Reflecting the value of water from human development, disturbance, and wilderness, a study conducted by the manipulation, and as such they improve Internet Research Information Series the quality of our air and water because found that, “Over 90 percent of Americans undisturbed protect some said protection of air and water quality “Over 90 percent of of the cleanest and watersheds are very to extremely important values Americans said protection in the nation. The streams and of Wilderness.” The results echo those of of air and water quality flowing from wilderness provide natural the 2000 National Survey on are very to extremely that makes air and water clean, and the Environment, a study conducted important values of a benefit that is found downstream by the Service and the National Wilderness.” in across the nation. Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Air Quality

Many wilderness areas contain , Just as the protects which are known to cleanse the air. wilderness areas, the Clean Air Act Forests clean and oxygenate the air protects air quality values within as trees naturally intercept airborne wilderness areas. Wilderness areas in , reduce heat, and absorb existence as of August 7, 1977 that are such as , larger than 5,000 acres are protected dioxide, and . under the Clean Air Act, a law that set They reduce air by lowering air a national goal of no human- , through respiration, and by caused impairment. This is difficult, Stikine-LeConte Wilderness, AK US Forest Service photo retaining . since most pollutants can travel great distances. To ensure preservation of air or cultural . Overall air quality is quality, the wilderness management tested by monitoring visibility, rainwater, agencies monitor that may surface , and . impact , , water, , visibility

Water Quality

Undisturbed ecosystems in wilderness National Park; Albuquerque, , have hydrological filtering effects that to ’s Weminuche Wilderness. produce clean water. As such, many communities get their water from Some wilderness areas were designated sources that start flowing in wilderness. in order to preserve healthy watersheds According to the Forest Service, two- for current and future generations, thirds of the nation’s runoff, excluding such as the Rattlesnake Wilderness , comes from forested areas, just outside of Missoula, . The including wilderness, and 60 million Rattlesnake National Recreation Area Americans get their water from these and Wilderness Act of 1980 states watersheds. that the “area has long been used as a wilderness by Montanans and by people Large watersheds are composed of throughout the Nation who value it as smaller watersheds, a fact that allows a source of...clean, free-flowing waters many communities to map their water stored and used for municipal purposes for source back to one or more wilderness over a century.” areas. Fresno, , for example, Some wilderness areas can map back its water source to the The Great Swamp National were designated in order Mountains and many Refuge Wilderness in New Jersey to preserve healthy wilderness areas, such as the Yosemite, exemplifies a that was watersheds… Ansel Adams, , Dinkey , designated because it provides other Kaiser, Monarch, and Sequoia-Kings water-related services including Canyon . D.C. control, recharge, and can map its water source back to within water detention and filtration. designated wilderness in Shenandoah

John Muir Wilderness, CA Wilderness Photo by Greg Dusic Air and Water Quality 2