What are Special Provisions?

Special provisions are typically thought of as legislated exceptions to the 1964 Wilderness Act Section 4(c) prohibitions against commercial enterprise, permanent roads, motor vehicles, motorized equipment, aircraft landing, mechanical transport, structures, and installations. The special provisions database is a comprehensive, searchable, collection of these exceptions. Oftentimes, these special provisions are referred to as "non-conforming" uses. Section 4(d) of the 1964 Wilderness Act includes eight special provisions. In the first compilation and description of special provisions in wilderness legislation, Browning and othersreference 1 generally define special provisions as "specific guidelines for allocation and management based upon unique circumstances of local or regional concern." When included in legislation, special provisions are legal requirements for designating and managing a wildernessreference 2.

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.


  1. Browning, J. A., Hendee, J. C. & Roggenbuck, J. W. (1988). 103 Wilderness Laws: Milestones and Management Direction in Wilderness Legislation, 1964–1987. Bulletin Number 51, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID. Return to previous content.
  2. Hendee, J. C. & Dawson, C. P. (2002). Wilderness Management: Stewardship and Protection of Resources and Values (3rd ed.). Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing. Return to previous content.