The Resource Protection toolbox provides information to help wilderness managers translate what the Wilderness Act mandate to preserve wilderness character means for their area by crafting meaningful direction (desired conditions, objectives, and monitoring requirements) so that long-term protections are established. The toolbox is focused on the FS 10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge Element 8, Resource Protection, but includes resources and references applicable to other agencies. Toolboxes are comprehensively reviewed and updated approximately every three years, with intermittent small updates and additions in the interim. To suggest new materials for inclusion, email Lisa Ronald at firstname.lastname@example.org. Date of last update: 01/12/2019.
The Wilderness Act states that, "each agency administering any area designated as wilderness shall be responsible for preserving the wilderness character of the area" (Section 4b). Thus, to prevent degradation of the wilderness resource, stewardship programs must define what wilderness character means for the particular area, develop plan direction to ensure that wilderness character is preserved (desired condition), monitor to assess whether conditions are trending towards or away from desired conditions, and implement actions to maintain or restore desired conditions.
This toolbox focuses on providing information to help wilderness managers translate what wilderness character means for their area into meaningful direction (desired conditions, objectives, and monitoring requirements) so that long-term protections are established to preserve wilderness character. The toolbox does not focus on developing and implementing actions to maintain or restore desired conditions other than provide reference sources that identify the myriad of strategies and tactics managers can use to address specific problems.
To be successful in meeting element #8 of the 10-year wilderness stewardship challenge, the minimum level of accomplishment is to develop plan direction that includes a statement of desired conditions and monitoring requirements. This is accomplished either through the Forest Plan Revision process or by amending an existing Forest Plan to include this information. Forest plans revised under the 1982 Planning Rule may be amended using a NEPA process. Forest Plans revised using the 2008 Planning Rule may require a separate planning process and NEPA analysis apart from the forest plan revision process. In either case it is important to understand the forest planning process so that wilderness managers can effectively work with forest planning staff to develop meaningful direction that helps guide decisions so that wilderness character is preserved.
Wilderness Planning Overview
Wilderness planning is the art of translating what wilderness character means for a particular area into meaningful direction so that long-term protections are in place. Developing "meaningful direction" means crafting desired conditions, objectives, and monitoring requirements in collaboration with the public and incorporating this direction within Forest Plans. One of the lessons learned from years of wilderness management is that change is inevitable. As human use increases or increased pressure is exerted to alter wilderness systems, one of two things happens: (1) Conditions deteriorate (e.g. more trails and campsites are created, crowding occurs in popular locations, more structures appear), or (2) Management intensifies either by imposing more restrictions within the wilderness or by limiting access. Planning is the process used to guide change so the resulting conditions are acceptable.
FS 10-Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge
Examples of Management Plan Direction, Standards, Indicators, and Monitoring
- Alpine Lakes Wilderness Alternatives (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Ansel Adams-John Muir-Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Management Plan (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Bob Marshall Monitoring Guidebook (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Bridger-Teton National Forest Wilderness Direction (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- BWCAW Standards and Guidelines (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Developing a Monitoring Plan
- High Uintas Indicators, Standards, Monitoring (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Holistic Wilderness Monitoring
- Jedediah Smith and Winegar Hole Wilderness Direction (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Sawtooth Wilderness Inventory and Monitoring
- SJRG NF Management Direction (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
Eagle Cap Wilderness
- Standards and Guidelines (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Management Options (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Restoration Plan
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Plan
Mt. Rogers Wilderness
National Park Service
- National Minimum Set Standards-Draft (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- NPS Potential Indicators and Standards (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- NPS Wilderness Stewardship Planning Handbook
Wilderness Character Monitoring Toolbox
- Landres, P., Boutcher, S., Merigliano, L., Barns, C., Davis, D., Hall, T., Henry, S. Hunter, B., Janiga, P., Laker, M., McPherson, A., Powell, D., Rowan, M., Sater, S. 2005. Monitoring selected conditions related to wilderness character: a national framework. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-151. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 38p.
- Table of Indicators and Measures
Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute
- Publications Search
- Leopold Publication Number 438 - Linking Wilderness Research and Management; Annotated Reading List, Volume 1 - Wilderness Fire Restoration and Management
- Leopold Publication Number 464 - Linking Wilderness Research and Management; Annotated Reading List, Volume 4 - Understanding and Managing Invasive Plants in Wilderness and Other Natural Areas
Managing Recreation Use - Problems and Solutions
- Cole, D. E., Peterson, M. E., Lucas, R. C. 1987. Managing wilderness recreation use: Common problems and potential solutions. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-230. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 63p.
- Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center
- Need for Change-Desired Conditions (10.48 MB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Desired Character (2.14 MB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Planning Framework (3.05 MB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Inventory Conditions (1.61 MB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Indicators and Standards (748 KB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
- Indicators and Standards (888 KB) (Visitor Use Management Toolbox)
University of Montana Wilderness Institute Distance Education Program
- Hendee, John C., and Dawson, Chad P., Wilderness Management: Stewardship and Protection of Resources and Values, 3rd edition, 2002.