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1. WILDERNESS

Nation's premier conservation law enters era of compromise

When President Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law 50 years ago today, the nation's wild places were vanishing at a rapid clip. Designated wilderness -- defined in the law as an area "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor and does not remain" -- was needed to offset a booming population that threatened to pave, plow or develop every vestige of the frontier. The law was prophetic, its defenders say. But some forecast growing pains for the Wilderness Act as it enters its sixth decade.

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