The Gila Wilderness is the world's first wilderness area. Along with the Aldo Leopold and the Blue Range wilderness areas, this is a wild place that is 27 miles long and 39 miles wide. This area was established on June 3, 1924 in large part to the efforts of one adopted New Mexican, Aldo Leopold.
After graduation from Yale in 1909, Leopold was assigned to the Forest Service's District 3 in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. At first, he was a forest assistant at the Apache National Forest in the Arizona Territory. In 1911, he was transferred to the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico. Leopold's career, which kept him in New Mexico until 1924, included developing the first comprehensive management plan for the Grand Canyon, writing the Forest Service's first game and fish handbook, and proposing Gila Wilderness Area, the world's first designated wilderness area.
The wolf was a resident of the Gila for thousands of years and their presence was controversial, even in Leopold's day. When the Mexican Gray Wolf was reintroduced into the Gila, it re-kindled this controversy and it continues to this day. There are points to be made on both sides of the issue. A solution needs to be found. Without these magnificent creatures, the wilderness is incomplete.