By Jody Brumage
by Malorie Matos
The Byrd Center is excited to announce that the Harley O. Staggers, Sr. Press Series is now open for research.
We have just finished processing Congressman Stagger’s fascinating collection of press materials and newspaper clippings. The series contains press coverage of specific topics and issues addressed by Staggers throughout his 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. The collection spans the entirety of Stagger’s professional life, beginning with his days as a student at Emory and Henry College in the 1920’s and ending with his retirement from the U.S. Congress in the 1980’s.
By Jody Brumage
“The East cries out for wilderness – here where the rush and bustle of Twentieth Century society reaches its dizziest pace, places of solitude and natural unspoiled beauty are desperately needed.” – Congressman Ken Hechler, 1974
Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, setting up a framework for federal protection of unspoiled natural landmarks in the United States. Lands designated as wilderness were protected from mining, harvesting of timber, and other destructive industries and instead used to develop recreation and tourism. However, in the decade following its passage, the balance of protected lands swung heavily to the western states where more than 10 million acres of land had been declared wilderness compared to just 27,000 acres in the eastern states. This disparity stemmed from the definition of wilderness provided in the 1964 act, which required lands to be “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.” This excluded many of the eastern national parks and forests which were reclaimed and in the process of being restored to their original state, reversing the effects of decades of extraction of natural resources. To address this disparity, several members of Congress began to push for legislation that would redefine “wilderness” and open the door to the eastern states for inclusion under the protection of the Wilderness Act.
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