By International Snowmobile Manufacturers
There are many groups working in the United States
attempting to designate more Wilderness Areas or “Wilderness Study Areas.” If they are successful, we will have more
land put aside in the United
States that is seldom, if ever, visited by
outdoor recreationists. The Wilderness Act became law in 1964 and defined
Wilderness as “undeveloped federal land retaining its primeval character and
influence. The natural forces prevail without man’s interference in Wilderness.
Man is a visitor who doesn’t remain and his works are substantially
The main focus of Wilderness Management
is perpetuation of its Wilderness Character.
Wilderness is a place where the natural forces prevail and fire is among
those forces. The suppression of forest fires in the United States costs taxpayers $2.5 billion
annually. Fires also pump as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a few
weeks as automobiles and trucks do in an entire year.
Here is some information regarding
Designated Wilderness within the United States:
1. The United States National Forest and
Grasslands encompass approximately 193 million acres. Within these units there
are 439 designated Wilderness units comprising approximately 37 million acres
or 19.2 percent of the U.S. Forest
System. These 439 designated Wilderness units do not include millions of other
acres designated as Wilderness Study Areas or administratively managed as
defacto Wilderness Areas.
2. The Wilderness Act prohibits
commercial enterprises, structures, roads or motorized equipment (i.e.:
snowmobiles, ATVs, chainsaws, bicycles, strollers, handcarts, etc.). Wilderness
visitation accounts for 3.3 percent of all total U.S. Forest
Service Recreation visits. Recent Forest Service data indicates there were a
total of 199.7 million recreation visits to the U.S. Forests nationwide. In
contrast, designated Wilderness visits account for only 6.6 million visits.
3. When interacting on Wilderness designation
issues, it is helpful to know that we presently have a lot of designated
Wilderness in the U.S.
and very few people visit designated Wilderness areas.
For information on visitation and use in
our National Forests, you can visit the USFS web site: www.fs.fed.usda.gov.