When the U.S. Congress passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, it created a legal and ethical imperative to preserve wilderness as a public good. Now, 50 years later, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana will host a conference that celebrates the work done to fulfill that imperative and that considers the future challenges and controversies facing wilderness. Dane Scott with the Mansfield Center has more:

"There's a lot of things going on in Montana and around the country celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act," Scott said. "This is a conference that is focused on celebrating it as well as looking towards the future and some of the challenges the wilderness faces as we move forward to the next 50 years."

Scott said the conference will pay special attention to the key roles Montana and Montanans have played and are playing in pursuing, establishing and realizing the imperative of wilderness.

"There's a lot of things that will be talked about," Scott said. "One of things that will be discussed is political stalemate and sort of the polarization that has led us not designate new wilderness areas in Montana for decades. Then, you know, pro and con will be discussed. Also, one of the other things is climate change."

The 2014 Fall Mansfield Conference, titled “The Storied Past, the Troubled Future: The Imperative of Wilderness at 50 Years,” will be held Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 10-12, at the University of Montana.

All sessions are free and open to the public, however RSVPs are requested.

To view a complete schedule of events and to register, visit the UM website.

Dane Scott: