What is the Special Provisions Database?

The special provisions database is a comprehensive collection of special provisions excerpted from every public law designating federal wilderness. To assemble the special provisions database, the text of every wilderness law was read and all special provisions were identified. Based on the potential for alternative interpretations, all provisions that differ from the statutory language of the 1964 Wilderness Act were included. Furthermore, because there is no exact definition of a special provision, included also were all provisions that modified management of a specific wilderness, but were not necessarily exceptions to Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act, such as boundary adjustments.

Special provisions are organized according to primary and secondary categories. Where a specific provision relates to several aspects of wilderness management, such as grazing, permits, and agency jurisdiction over such permits, the provision is categorized under these three different secondary categories. The text provided in the database for a special provision in a particular category often contains language related to other provisions (situated just before or just after the provision of interest), which is included in the excerpt for context. Special provisions can also be accessed by wilderness law and wilderness area in the database, though it is important to note that special provisions from the 1964 Wilderness Act apply to all wilderness areas, even if the area was not designated by the Act. Keywords can also be searched either alone or in conjunction with other search criteria.

For more information about special provisions and the special provisions database, read Improving Wilderness Stewardship Through Searchable Databases of U.S. Legislative History and Legislated Special Provisions, by David R. Craig, Peter Landres and Laurie Yung in the August 2010 issue of the International Journal of Wilderness.