Contributors to this thread:
What criteria defines "WILDERNESS AREA"?
buzz mc's Link
Just wondering if there are certain criteria that defines a "Wilderness Area".
I'll use WY as an example: As I look at the map, some of the areas that are marked as wilderness areas really don't appear to be that much different than other areas that are just as remote.
As defined by the Wilderness Act.
DEFINITION OF WILDERNESS (c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value
Ummm, yes, "outstanding opportunities for solitude".
This is one of five trailheads into a small wilderness area in CO on a Wednesday during archery season. I couldn't fit all the vehicles into the frame. A packer friend getting ready to haul some sports in was joking with me about their expectation of "solitude".
An adjacent trailhead with one trail leading into only one valley
An adjacent trailhead with one trail leading into only one valley
Wilderness to me is embodied by the freedom to enjoy the great out of doors WITHOUT OVERSIGHT!
Legislatively designated Wilderness (capital W Wilderness) by the federal bureaucratic definition, has tons of administrative rules, regulations and BS. As a rule it is crowded and the promised "solitude" is a joke.
But wilderness (with a small "w") is something like what we experience here in much of Alaska. That is to say, it is truly wild country. It is without all the nonsense and rangers to enforce the nonsense. It is truly wild and one experiences true solitude.
I have no interest in visiting the (relatively) crowded federal Wilderness Areas and having my trip ruined by Big Brother or even just his overbearing presence via rules and regulations.
Here, if I want to cut my camp wood with a chain saw, I do so. Because there is no one else around to be offended by the sound!
Am I lucky to live in Alaska? Of course, but that "luck" is because I had the gumption to move here nearly 50 years ago!
I know some people that when they see the city limit sign in the review mirror they are in wilderness!
In WY? Someplace that is so scary and dangerous to me as a nonresident hunter that I'm only allowed to hike there unarmed:)
Wilderness means; That its a magnet for every out of state hunter looking to get away from the crowd.
I think I know that TH in Jaq's post. Thats nuthin.....go to the Turkey creek TH that heads into the Weiminuche wilderness....you have to park about 1/4 mile out from the TH. We talked to hunters that said there are guys quadding in past the wilderness boundary...its a dang freeway.
Beendare, that's only for "out of state" hunters? Are you saying one needs to be from your state to be a real hunter? Be careful with stupid comments like that.
Beendare isn't speaking out of school. Virtually every NR hunter who contacts me about elk hunting is planning to pack into a wilderness area. It's like some romantic dream where people imagine solitude and big bills everywhere.
Last season six different NR guys asked me about hunting from the same trailhead. And they were all planning to hunt with another partner or two. I tell them to expect plenty of company. Invariably the stories after the season involve seeing more hunters than elk, calling in other hunters, etc.. A couple friends were camped 6 miles back in there and said it was a constant parade of backpack hunters marching past their camp until they got fed up and bailed. A dozen years ago they rarely saw anyone in the same camp.
So as a resident I either avoid designated wilderness altogether or hunt the edges where everyone packs past. I may see one other hunter in the woods in an entire season. I find way more solitude hunting areas with lots of ATV trails. NR bowhunters avoid those areas like the plague and resident hunters ride more than hunt. Wilderness doesn't mean lack of people, only lack of roads.
Pete hit it.
There is the bureaucratic definition of wilderness.
But when I look for a wilderness experience, it does not need to be encompassed by governmental boundaries. (Geographic or regulatory)
It doesn't really matter what people think it is, if it is officially designated that is what determines it to be.
Could you imagine how crowded the wilderness areas in Wyoming would be if they allowed NR in on there own? ;)
I agree - Pete nailed it.
For me - "wilderness area" (not necessarily capitalized) is where others are not. (you know what I mean)
Part of my question is ....... how do "THEY" (Government - or whomever???) determine what areas are to be designated "W"ilderness Areas?
By looking at the maps, there really doesn't appear to be any real rhyme or reason to "where" they are located (other than rugged looking country of course).
Also; have these "W"ilderness Areas been in effect for many, many years, or have some of them been - created / designated recently?
Reach out to your local Forester, or go to the USFS website.
Mike, with the entire state limited-entry, it wouldn't be as bad as CO.
Most of them are foot or horse travel only. No wheeled vehicles permitted.
There were quite a few new "wilderness areas" designated during Obama's first year, 2009. Payback to his green constituents. Presumably those are the ones pissing off the mountain bikers (most of whom probably voted for him....)
Most were added in the mid-80s.
The trail to Turkey lake is actually open for three miles to atv's, and lots of guys camp right next to the wilderness boundary. A good friend outfits just north of Turkey Lake, and the traffic in there on the horse trail is so bad that at times you have to stop to allow distance between you and the horses in front of you. And then you throw the atv traffic in there and you have some first class horse wrecks!!
In Colorado, most wilderness areas area marked by signs at the start of the boundary, and now, with forest service personal hiking the trails, guys are getting hammered for having mountain bikes in the wilderness. Kinda funny to see em pissed off with tickets in their hands!! My dad used to be a deputy sheriff and the tickets that he handed out was remarkable. Glad to see the forest service stepping up their patrols in the wilderness areas.
I call it getting loved to death. Unfortunately I think the industry has created this want of everyone wanting to DIY backcountry. Those that adapt will be ok.
To me it’s an area that has no wheeled traffic, nothing man induced as far as habitat manipulation, etc...... However, to the federal government, those rules simply didn’t apply. There are so many area here in the east, that has obtained that generic title, that aren’t nor ever will be wilderness areas. Unfortunately, like most government policy meant for good, it was a law used as a land grab. But, that’s a different topic for another time. God Bless men.
All Wilderness Areas are not created equal. For the most part, a lot of the small ones really aren't all that wild, but my guess is if you head into the Frank Church, the Bitteroot-Selway, the Bob, etc. you might think different. That doesn't mean you won't see people, but you are a long way from society and assistance (relatively speaking for the Lower 48). A lot of the backpacking crowd heads to Colorado and areas like the Weminuche because its easy to get a tag and you don't have to worry about large scary predators. The Weminuche is also large for Colorado, yet only 20% the size of the Frank Church, so access from outside is much easier to the interior points.
The criteria is defined in the Bill. Designating Wilderness on Federal land is an Act of Congress. The Guidelines could be different among various agencies. I know we can use Wheeled Game Carriers on the KOFA National Wildlife Refuge in the Wilderness but that is a No No on other lands not all that far away. They can cherry stem roads and other places out of the Wilderness and use all sorts of other tricks. It's all whatever the advocates get in the bill, and the result is what is leftover after it gets through Congress. The Wilderness Act is very small by comparison to other National Enviromental Laws and is subject to a lot of interpretation by the implementing agencies. Read the act yourself and you will see how there is all the grey area.
Dang Graveyard.....didn't mean to get you all wrapped up over my facetious comment. I get that guys from a long distance away need a starting point.
I've seen good and bad in the wilderness areas I've hunted. Hey bowhunting is popular now...a guy has to adjust his strategy accordingly.
Personally, I've seen areas right off the highway that had less traffic than some of the wilderness areas in CO....and elk in there too.
I hunt a relatively small Wilderness area in Washington State. It gets some use, quite a bit at times. But it is a spectacular area, and has some good elk. It is not that 'remote, only maybe 5 miles across and 15 long, but I can go in there with a full parking lot (there is more than one trailhead, maybe 6 access points). But it is kinda primitive once you're in there. And it is not logged, which makes a big difference in the habitat quality to me. Its not all log strewn and brush piles.. I t may not even be the best habitat per se, since logged areas often hold more game, but to me, its the untouched quality that appeals to me. That is the definition of Wilderness to me. I does not have to be so far from everything as to takes days and extraordinary means to access it. However, those trailheads in CO above...I'd drive right by those. THAT is just too much overcrowding for me. It may be wild and elky, but nothing would be more of a deterrent to me than those full lots.
whoops, left something out: 'but I can go in there with a full parking lot (there is more than one trailhead, maybe 6 access points)', and not see anyone else at all off the main trails most times. I rarely see anyone off the trails. Its an easy place to get lost actually, for most I'd bet. I know it pretty well now and I still get turned around. Last elk I got there, I came down to the trailhead 2 hours after pitch dark with a big hunk of elk meat and head on my pack. Had I not had a flashlight I would have been spending the night up there. Would have been a real uncomfortable night. And fresh cat tracks a few hundred yards from my elk carcass. No cat found it by the next day though.
Brotsky- don't mean to hijack the thread, but why must you hike in Wilderness in WYO unarmed? I was under the impression that if I had a CCW permit that was honored by WYO, then I was legal. I checked and WYO honors PA and S.Dakota CCW's.
You can definitely hike in WY wilderness armed, you can backpack, camp, fish, take photos, eat berries, pick mushrooms, catch butterflies, have sex, feed bears, climb cliffs, float rivers, etc.. You just can't be armed during hunting season unless you are accompanied by a guide. It's just not "safe" for us nonresident stumblebums, you know. That's what Brotski meant. The "Wyoming Outfitter Welfare Law" is one of the biggest jokes in the western hunting world.
He means you can backpack in all you want into this dangerous and wild area all alone, but if you hunt, you are required to have a guide because it’s a dangerous and wild area.
OH, OK! Gotcha!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for clarifying that guys! Agreed................................ridiculous!!!!!!
To be technical, Lou can't hunt in wilderness in WY, but I can, because I live a little north of an imaginary line that lies between our homes. That, and the fact that I pay WY state income tax has convinced the good people of WY that I'm a reasonable risk to hunt alone in the wilderness.
Oh, wait ... we don't have state income tax, either. Well, there's a few things you folks in Colorado do that are illegal up here, so, pick your poison.
We hunt federally designated wilderness a lot, but I have had more and probably better encounters with elk in non-wilderness areas, some no more than 1/2 mile off the road.
My big WY buck died about 30 yards from some little yellow carsonite stakes going through the sagebrush, marking the edge of a new "wilderness area". Not sure what would have happened had he run over past the signs to die.
You weren't hunting, only retrieving at that point :)
I’d have to check again but I believe as a NR you can hunt in a wilderness area without a guide or resident guide. Just can’t hunt big game or trophy game????