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KNOXVILLE, TENN— September 3, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.  In recognition of this memorable anniversary various groups and organizations are sponsoring a celebration on September 3rd from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the East Tennessee History Center in downtown Knoxville.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 was landmark legislation and has protected thousands of acres of Tennessee’s most beautiful natural wonders. “If you cherish the woods, waters, and wildlife of East Tennessee you don’t want to miss this event,” said Sandra Goss, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning.

Tennessee has played a key role in helping our nation realize the importance of protecting wild places that define America and represent freedom in the truest sense of the word. Celebrating this history, speakers at the event will tell the story of people, place, and promise.  Will Skelton, Sierra Club said, “I can’t imagine a better place than East Tennessee to celebrate wilderness.  After all, native Tennesseans such as Harvey Broome helped make the Wilderness Act a reality.”

The evening will take participants on a journey to explore what wilderness means in Tennessee, why it is more important than ever, and what the future holds for the next 50 years of this natural legacy. “It is our responsibility to be stewards of these lands and we hope to inspire people to join us in protecting this enduring resource,” Bill Hodge, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards said.

Regional conservation organization, Wild South, will host the festivities.  “We believe celebrating this landmark legislation with our friends and partners in the Volunteer State is a great way to honor our past, take pride in the present, and look ahead to the future”, said Ben Prater, Wild South.

The evening will feature Bill Meadows, past President of the Wilderness Society; Charles Maynard, UMC Minister and storyteller; and a keynote address delivered by Mary Wagner, Associate Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.   JaSal Morris, Cherokee National Forest Supervisor said, “We are delighted to welcome the Associate Chief to this important event and to the Cherokee National Forest, which manages over 66,000 acres of wilderness.”

The event will include light hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, door prizes, museum tours (4:00-6:00 pm) and plenty of time to socialize.

The event is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, Wild South, Smoky Mountains Hiking Club, The TN Wild Coalition, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, The Wilderness Society, East Tennessee History Center, Cherokee Forest Voices, Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, and Sierra Club.