Happy 98th Birthday, Gila Wilderness!

I once looked at a map showing the United States at night. Lights lit up the coasts and our massive cities across the hinterlands. Though my eyes were attracted to the energy of the lights, they eventually settled on the blank spots on the map.

One of those large, blank spots was the Greater Gila of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, which is home to some of the last, best, wild—but still largely unprotected—public lands in the continental United States.

It’s also home to the Gila Wilderness—America’s first designated wilderness.

We celebrate the Greater Gila on this day because 98 years ago, on June 3, 1924, the U.S. Forest Service did something quite remarkable. Based on ancient and emerging wisdom at the time, it chose to exercise restraint and allow wild country to be wild.

We chose to celebrate the Gila and its looming centennial by creating an anthology of essays that capture why the Greater Gila is so loved and so deserving of even stronger protection. First & Wildest: The Gila Wilderness at 100 has been a great collaboration between Guardians, Torrey House Press, our editor Elizabeth Hightower Allen, and the many inspired writers who love the Gila.

I encourage you to order a copy of the book right here. And as a bonus, Torrey House Press is generously donating 20% of all book sales to WildEarth Guardians through June 10. Just use promo code “WILD” at checkout. Need more inspiration? Watch this film trailer that captures the spirit of the book.

If the Greater Gila is to endure, and life as we know it is to survive the compounding climate and biodiversity crises, we must continue to think boldly, celebrate wildly, and collaborate deeply.

If you love the Greater Gila—or want to fall in love with the Greater Gila for the first time—please buy the book and then join Guardians’ campaign to protect all that we love.

Like what you just read? Sign up for our E-news. Want to do more? Visit our Action Center.

About the Author

John Horning | Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians

Read more from