Following is a statement on the Wilderness Institute
perspective on managing wilderness areas. (Emphasis in red has been
designating a wilderness does not assure its preservation. An
understanding of wilderness values is needed to guide all activities in
wilderness, including grazing, access to private lands, mining, fish and
wildlife, cultural sites, fire, and insects and disease.
needed to minimize the impacts of the wilderness visitor
on the immediate environment and the experience of other visitors.
Wilderness management applies guidelines derived from social and natural
sciences to preserve the qualities for which wilderness was established.
long-term values of wilderness to our society and the world will be
their naturalness and wildness, and their
A better understanding of these values will help
influence to a minimum
while still providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy and experience
the wilderness. "
Wilderness Society "BLM Action Center"
There are numerous resources on this Wilderness
Society website available for the purposes of “helping you effectively
engage and participate in the processes used by the Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) to determine how your wild lands are managed.”
Selected excerpts below. (Emphasis in red has been added.)
“A Conservationist’s Guide to BLM Planning and Decision Making”
Wilderness Society – and others who monitor the agency’s actions –
the BLM has failed on many counts in its
stewardship duties. And it is likely to continue down this same
path unless citizens mobilize their significant power as individuals and
join together in effective coalitions to enforce the
conservation-oriented obligations mandated by law.
about such a seminal change requires a commitment of time, energy and
financial resources. It requires dedication to finding a way through
the complicated and arcane mazes of the BLM planning and decision-making
The BLM manages
the public lands under the general philosophy of multiple use and
(Chapter IV.B). Multiple use and sustained yield have long been
maligned and, in general, misinterpreted and misapplied by interests
hostile to conservation. However, multiple use
and sustained yield are grounded in conservation.
Under these principles, the BLM is directed to
optimize the public good, giving equal footing to conservation,
recreation, and commercial values.
Visitor Use Management in Wilderness
www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/documents/vum/Indirect and Direct
According to the
Wilderness Institute website, “The purpose of this Visitor Use Management Toolbox is to provide
wilderness managers and others interested in stewardship of the National
Wilderness Preservation System with information, guidelines, examples, and
other resources about visitor use management in wilderness.”. The
excerpts below are from the document titled “Indirect and Direct Methods
for Visitor Use Management”. (Emphasis in red has been added.)
– Emphasis on influencing or modifying use and/or behavior. Individual
retains freedom to choose. Control less complete, more variation in use
1. Physical design and
maintain, or neglect access roads.
maintain, or neglect campsites.
Make trails more
or less difficult.
Build trails or
leave areas trail-less.
Improve fish or
wildlife populations or take no actions (stock, allow depletion,
2. Information and Education
- Information to redistribute use.
- Advertise recreation opportunities in surrounding areas,
- Leave No Trace education programs.
- Advertise underused areas and patterns of use.
3. Entry and eligibility requirements
- Charge constant visitor fee
- Charge different fees by trail zones, season, and entry
- Require proof of wilderness knowledge and/or skills (or group
Emphasis on regulation of behavior. Individual
choice restricted. High in degree of control."
1. Increased enforcement
Increase surveillance of area (wilderness
Separate incompatible uses
(hiker only zones, areas with stock use).
Prohibit use at times of high damage
(ex. No stock use in high meadows until dry, approx. July 1).
Limit camping with setbacks from water or other
3. Rationing Use
Rotate use (open or close access points,
Assign campsites and/or travel routes to each
Limit usage via access points.
Group or party size limits.
Limit camping to designated campsites only.
Limit length of stay in area (max./min.).
4. Restrictions on activities.
Prohibit certain types of use.
Restrict building campfires.
Restrict certain recreation activities.
Wilderness Recreation Strategy
This is another
Wilderness Institute toolbox item outlining "Recreation Strategy".
Below are selected quotes from the document. (Emphasis in red has
Wilderness Recreation Strategy
Forest Service has evolved a long-standing wilderness management
paradigm that opportunities for solitude are mandated by the 1964
Wilderness Act, and that every wilderness visitor can expect to be able
to experience solitude, even in the most spectacular and easily reached
parts of a wilderness. This desire to provide outstanding opportunities
for solitude on every acre of every wilderness is reflected in the
social standards developed for most wilderness areas in forest plans.
The need to comply with these social standards
is driving proposals to limit recreational access to high use
destinations. Two primary problems have been identified: 1) Much of the
public is critical of use limits based on social standards alone, in
high use destination areas, and 2) When use limits are implemented in
high use areas, visitors are displaced to the more pristine and
sensitive areas that have received very low use in the past.
Many, if not
most, high use portions of wilderness are out of compliance with the
social and biophysical standards in forest plans, and have been since
implementation of the plans.
The degree to which the social standards have been exceeded is of
There has been a
general lack of public support for limiting use in order to bring high
use areas into compliance with social standards.
This lack of support is due, in part, to the
drastic use reductions that have been proposed, in some cases
reductions of up to 50-75 percent of
current use levels. Another factor may be that people visiting these
high use areas are tolerant of seeing many other visitors.
They will accept less than their ideal for
wilderness, rather than be told they can’t go to the areas at all.
Gorton, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, added committee
report language to the FY 1998 Interior Appropriations Bill stating the
committee’s concern over the Forest Service’s
“attempt to control the concept of solitude in wilderness within our
National Forests.” The committee expressed concerns that
social standards are “subjective and
artificially set numbers of allowable encounters per day between human
public and congressional reactions are research findings by FS
wilderness research scientists, David Cole and Alan Watson of the Aldo
Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, which conclude that
the benefits from reducing use to protect
solitude at high use areas may not justify the costs in terms of denying
people access to the wilderness that they love. For example, in
some high use destinations, a 70% cut in use (affecting literally
thousands of people a season) would result in encountering another group
every 6 minutes instead of every 3 minutes.
Managers are hard pressed to conclude that this gain is worth the cost.
the FS, experienced and respected wilderness
managers and line officers have voiced heart-felt reservations about
social standards that seem to put the agency in the position of
determines, for visitors, when they have had a quality wilderness
experience. In addition, there have been
unanticipated adverse affects to pristine wilderness from some
management actions. For example, in some places that have
implemented use limits or other restrictions, displacement of visitors
from high use areas to lightly used areas has occurred, either within
the same wilderness or to other wilderness areas that were not
experiencing high use.
Proposed Action #1.
Create and/or market opportunities for high
quality wildland recreation experiences outside wilderness on and off
National Forest lands.
Note: If the
purpose of wilderness is for people to enjoy, why do managers feel the
need to market recreational opportunities OUTSIDE wilderness areas and
push the public out of the wilderness???
Proposed Action #2.
Make it a priority to commit
enough resources and protection to low use
wilderness lands to ensure nondegradation of their outstanding
opportunities for solitude and near pristine conditions.
Proposed Action #3.
In high use areas, develop and implement social
standards with public input, and
implement management actions to ensure that impacts to physical
and biological resources are contained within standards established in
the forest plan.
There are numerous other documents on the
Wilderness Institute website under the
section which outline issues related to the management of wilderness
Managing Recreation Use
This is a 63 page document titled Wilderness Recreation Use: Common
Problems and Potential Solutions from the United States Department of
Agriculture, Forest Service. (Emphasis in red has been added.)
"This report summarizes
information on alternative management tactics available for dealing with
problems. The first section of the report describes eight basic
strategies for attacking problems: reduce use of
the entire wilderness, reduce use of problem areas, modify the location
of use within problem areas, modify the timing of use, modify type of
use and visitor behavior, modify visitor expectations, increase the
resistance of the resource, and maintain or rehabilitate the resource."
"The second section describes
the nature of general problems resulting from recreational use of
wilderness. In order of frequency, the most common problems are trail
deterioration, campsite deterioration, litter, crowding, packstock
impact, human waste disposal, impacts on wildlife, user conflicts, and