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Wilderness Training Center.
Wilderness Considerations
for Fire Resource Advisors
Rocky Mountain Region
Wilderness Manager’s
Wilderness Fire Resource Advisor Training
Winter Meeting
2007
January 21-24, 2003
Objectives:
1. Become familiar with wilderness law
and policy and the role of fire
management in wilderness .
2. Understand the wilderness resource
and how decisions are made related
to fire management in wilderness.
3. Examine the wilderness challenges
for the Fire Resource Advisor task.
4. Provide tools to be used in
wilderness fire management.
The Wilderness Act of 1964
P.L. 88-577
 After 8 years of debate
in Congress
 66 different rewrites of
the bill
 18 public hearings that
generated over 6,000
pages of testimony…
COMPLETE TEXT OF THE WILDERNESS ACT
Public Law 88-577 (16 U.S. C. 1131-1136)
88th Congress, Second Session
September 3, 1964
AN ACT
To establish a National Wilderness
Preservation System for the permanent good of the
whole people, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in
Congress assembled.
SHORT TITLE
SECTION 1. This Act may be cited as the "Wilderness
Act."
Signed by President Johnson
on September 3, 1964
WILDERNESS SYSTEM ESTABLISHED STATEMENT
OF POLICY
SECTION 2.(a) In order to assure that an increasing
population, accompanied by expanding settlement and
growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all
areas within the United States and its possessions,
leaving no lands…
The Wilderness Act:
 Establishes a National Wilderness Preservation
System made up of federal lands.
 Identifies a process for areas to be added
through subsequent legislation.
 Provides overall definition of what wilderness
is.
 Provides general direction and identifies
responsibility for management of wilderness.
 Identifies special provisions for nonconforming uses
For more information on The Wilderness Act of 1964
visit: http://www.wilderness.net/
Currently there are 702 areas containing
approximately 107 million acres
National Wilderness Preservation
System - Percentage by Agency
5%
19.8%
33.2%
BLM
FWS
NPS
USFS
42%
The Wilderness Act
Title
Section
Section
Section
Section
Section
Section
Section
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
-
short title
policy and definition
extent of system
use of wilderness areas
state and private lands
gifts and contributions
annual reports
The Wilderness Act
Purpose of Wilderness
Section 2 (a)
… it is hereby declared to be
the policy of the Congress to
secure for the American
people of present and future
generations the benefits of an
enduring resource of
wilderness.
Benefits of an Enduring Resource
Social, Biophysical, Cultural
Definition of Wilderness
Section 2(c)
 “…man is a visitor…”
 “…retaining its’ primeval character and
influence…”
 “…without permanent habitation…”
 “…managed to preserve natural conditions…”
Definition of Wilderness
Section 2(c)
“…affected primarily
by the forces of
nature…”
 “…man’s work
substantially
unnoticeable…”
 “…outstanding
opportunities for
solitude or primitive
recreation…”
Photo by Stephen Peel
Wilderness Stewardship means:
Manage for ecological
health and integrity
Provide opportunities
for a wilderness
experience
Minimize human caused
impacts
Provide education and
information about the
wilderness resource,
values, and benefits
Wilderness Management Direction
Section 2 (a)
 “... shall be administered… in such a
manner as will leave them unimpaired
for future use and enjoyment as
wilderness…”
 “provide for the protection of these
areas, the preservation of their
wilderness character.”
Wilderness Management
Agency Responsibility
Section 4 (b)
“ …each agency shall be responsible for preserving
the wilderness character of the area and shall
so administer such area for such other purposes
for which it may have been established as also to
preserve its wilderness character.”
The managing agencies must preserve wilderness
character.
It is the over-riding criteria for all decisions,
including those involving fire management.
The Four Statutory Qualities of
Wilderness Character *
Undeveloped
Untrammeled
Natural
Outstanding opportunities for
solitude or a primitive and unconfined
type of recreation
•A National Framework for Monitoring Wilderness
Character, 2006
http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=WC
Four Statutory Qualities of
Wilderness Character
for Fire Management
Undeveloped
Untrammeled
Natural
Outstanding opportunities for
solitude or a primitive and unconfined
type of recreation
Untrammeled = Unhindered
“Not being subject to human controls
and manipulations that hamper the
free play of natural forces.”
-Howard Zahniser
Principal author of
The Wilderness
Act
FOUR STATUTORY QUALITIES OF
WILDERNESS CHARACTER
• “Untrammeled”
Wilderness is generally unhindered and free from
intentional modern human control or manipulation
Wilderness setting
Threats to this setting
Suppression and prescribed fire
EXAMPLES OF MANIPULATION
TO RESTORE NATURAL CONDITIONS IN WILDERNESS
Reducing fuels to restore natural fire regimes and
fire effects
FOUR STATUTORY QUALITIES OF
WILDERNESS CHARACTER
• “Natural”
Wilderness ecological systems are substantially
free from the unintentional effects of modern
civilization
Wilderness
setting
Threats to this setting
Suppression and suppression activities
Fire Control vs. Fire Management
Fire and Wilderness
This used to be called “a disaster”.
Wilderness Fire
Damage or Natural Event?
Catastrophic Fire
 Stand Replacing
Fire
 Ground Fire
 High Intensity
 Low Intensity

A natural part of the ecological process and wilderness
Wilderness – Natural Appearing or Wild ?
•Long-term fire suppression is an example of
large-scale manipulation of natural conditions.
•Fire use creates, for some visitors, a less
appealing and less natural appearing landscape
Fire and Wilderness – Natural role
The fire and the effects of the fire
Erosion-sedimentation
Smoke-air quality
The Wilderness Act
Agency Responsibility
Section 4 (d)
“…such measures may be taken as may
be necessary in the control of fire …
subject to such conditions as the
Secretary deems desirable.”
 The managing agencies have discretion
for how fire in wilderness is managed
The National Fire Policy and agency
fire and wilderness management policy
describe implementation
The Wilderness Act
Agency Responsibility
Section 4 (c)
no temporary road
no use of motor vehicles, motorized
equipment or motorboats
no landing of aircraft
no form of mechanical transport
no structure or installation
EXCEPT
The Wilderness Act
Agency Responsibility
Section 4 (c)
“…except as necessary to meet the
minimum requirements for the
administration of the area for the
purpose of this Act…”
•The ‘minimum requirements’ and
‘minimum tool’ provision of the Act.
Determining the
Minimum Requirement
The minimum requirement analysis is a
two step process *
Determining the
Minimum Requirement
The minimum requirement analysis is a
two step process
Step 1: Is administrative action needed?
•Do you really need to do something?
•Could another strategy avoid the need for
unnecessary effects to wilderness?
Determining the
Minimum Tool
Step 2: What is the minimum
necessary management action?
If it is necessary to take action:
• what is the minimum necessary tool
or method that will have the least
impact on wilderness resources and
values?
Wilderness Fire Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
1) Determining if any
action is necessary
2) Selecting the
method, tool, or
tactic which
represents the
minimum necessary
administrative action.
Determining the
Minimum Requirement
The minimum requirement analysis is a
two step process *
* The Minimum Requirements Decision
Guide
http://www.wilderness.net/mrdg/
Wilderness Fire Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement for
Fire Management
•A lengthy analysis is not always possible
or desirable in fire emergency situations.
•The Minimum Requirements Decision
Guide (MRDG) is not designed for use in
emergency situations
Wilderness Fire Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
1. Incorporate wilderness management
objectives and the minimum requirements
decision process into programmatic fire
management planning
2. Develop GO/NO GO checklists and decision
trees that will aid in the emergency decision
making situations that arise.
3. Make use of the proper authority (who in the
agency can make the decision).
4. Document the rationale and the decision to
track the process and improve future
decision making.
Fire Management Toolbox at: http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/
Wilderness Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Example - Method of transport
Preferences for Limiting Impacts
Long term impacts vs. short term disturbances
Aircraft use (if necessary)
Preferred:
• Helicopter flights
• Helicopter landings and/or sling loads in
natural openings
Least acceptable:
• New constructed helispots
Wilderness Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Example - Suppression activities
Preferences for Limiting Impacts
Long term impacts vs. short term disturbances
Suppression activities (if necessary)
Preferred:
• Natural fuel breaks
• Cold trailing
• Burnouts and backfires
• Wetlines and pumps
Least acceptable:
• Constructed fireline
Wilderness Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Example - Spike and coyote camps
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Long term impacts vs. short term disturbances
Example - Restoration
Wilderness Fire Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Example - Restoration
Wilderness Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Example - Restoration
The Minimum Tool vs. the Minimum Requirement
What really matters?
Other Concerns for Wilderness Fire Management
Subdivisions on the
Wilderness boundary
Threats from
Natural Events
Challenges for
Fire Use
Subsequent Wilderness Legislation
Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978
 Added 17 new wilderness areas, 1.3
million acres.
 These were areas that had been
originally excluded because they were
within “sight and sound” of cities.
Congress recognized value of ‘urban
wilderness’
Wilderness Fire Management
Information and Education
Wilderness and Fire
 The effects of fire
in wilderness should be
considered neither good
nor bad.
 In fire dependent
ecosystems, fire is a
critically important part
of the natural process.
Wilderness and Fire
•Unnecessary, negative impacts from
suppression are not part of the natural
condition.
•Always ask, is this action really necessary?
Manage fire in wilderness using only the
minimum necessary actions, tools, and
methods.
Use information and education to:
Explain why the use of MIST are needed
based on wilderness resource issues; explain
the reasons why it matters based on actual
effects (“The Authority of the Resource”)

MIST = Most Intelligent Sensible Tactics
 Capitalize on a ‘teachable moment’ for
wilderness
 Provide feasible alternatives to meet
both wilderness and fire goals
Remember that the essential principle of fire
management is always the top priority in
wilderness too:
“Do not compromise firefighter or public safety”
Wilderness Law and Policy - Key Points
The National Wilderness Preservation System
was established in response to a concern over
growing population and development.
The diversity of the system creates challenges
to fire management because of size, shape and
fuel types.
Subsequent legislation provides specific
direction that needs to be considered along
with the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Sections of the 1964 Wilderness Act and
agency policy apply to fire management and the
resource advisor role.
Wilderness Resource Advisor Tips
1. Know your role with the IMT, Agency
Administrator, and others.
2. Be prepared to stand up and present your case
for wilderness.
3. Understand the effects of fire and fire
management activities in wilderness.
4. Allow and assist fire managers to do what they
should, not what they could.
5. Be a credible wilderness advocate, not a zealot.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, overcivilized people are beginning to find out
that going to the mountains is going home;
that wilderness is a necessity; that
mountain parks and reservations are useful
not only as fountains of timber and
irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
-John Muir
Agency Policy
Fire Management in Wilderness
Fire Management Toolbox at: http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/
BLM Policy 8560.35 A
• Fire suppression measures and techniques
must be used which achieve the wilderness
management objectives with the minimum
adverse impact on the wilderness
resource.
• Methods and equipment which least alter
the landscape or disturb the land surface
are best.
FWS Policy 6 RM 8.8b C.
• While an aggressive approach to
wildfire control on certain
wilderness areas may be in order,
the methods utilized should be the
‘minimum tool.’
Forest Service Policy 2320:
Conduct all fire management activities within
wilderness in a manner compatible with overall
wilderness management objectives.
Give preference to using methods and
equipment that cause the least:
1.
2.
3.
4.
Alteration of the wilderness landscape.
Disturbance of the land surface.
Disturbance to visitor solitude.
Reduction of visibility during periods of
visitor use.
5. Adverse effect on other air quality
related values.
Forest Service Policy 2320:
• Locate fire camps, helispots, and other
temporary facilities or improvements
outside of the wilderness boundary
whenever feasible.
• Rehabilitate disturbed areas [caused by
suppression activities] within wilderness to
as natural an appearance as possible.
NPS General Mgmt. Policy
• Fire management or suppression activities
conducted within wilderness, including the
categories of designated, recommended,
potential, proposed, and eligible areas, will
be consistent with the “minimum
requirement” concept identified in Chapter
6 (of the General Management Policies) and
Director’s Order #41: Wilderness
Preservation and Management.
NPS Policy - Directors Order 41
• The park's fire management and wilderness
management plans must identify and
reconcile the natural and historic roles of
fire in the wilderness, and will provide a
prescription for response, if any, to natural
and human-caused wildlfires.
Agency Policy
Application to Fire
• Whenever possible, scrutinize the use
of motor vehicles, motorized equipment,
mechanical transport, and aircraft in
support of suppression activities.
Agency Policy
Application to Fire
 Whenever possible, scrutinize the use
of motor vehicles, motorized equipment,
mechanical transport and aircraft in
support of suppression activities.
 Activities that may have longer-term
impacts, such as retardant drops, line
construction, and dozer lines should be
minimized.
Federal Wildland Fire Policy
Application to Wilderness
Fire Management Toolbox at: http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/
Federal Wildland Fire Policy
Application to Wilderness
Continuing to suppress natural fires, causes
a significant alteration to natural conditions.
Federal Wildland Fire Policy
Application to Wilderness
Suppression actions can have a significant
impact to the resource.
Federal Wildland Fire Policy
Application to Wilderness
Fire Management Plans (FMP)
Utilize the: Wilderness Checklist for Fire
Management Plans
•Provide wilderness input to help address the
opportunities for natural fire in wilderness.
•Ensure that wilderness law and policy is
included in planning and implementation.
Fire Management Toolbox at: http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/
The Authority of the Resource*
The Authority of the Resource is a
communication technique that allows
the message to be delivered as ‘the
right thing to do for the wilderness
resource.’
The communication is not focused on
law and policy as the primary reason for
strategy or tactics.
* Education Planning Toolbox at: http://www.wilderness.net/toolboxes/
Example WRA task:
Need to locate the helispot in the opening
¼ mile west of the timbered ridge top
location shown on the map
Non-ART technique:
ART technique:
• Why? “ Because I’m the
wilderness resource
advisor and I have a
delegation of authority
that empowers me to
make these decisions.”
• Why? “Because taking
advantage of the natural
opening will eliminate the
need to fell 20 trees. It’s
the minimum necessary
action to insure that when
we leave here there will be
no lasting impacts from our
activities.”
Use of the Authority of the Resource
technique allows the Resource Advisor to:
Explain why the use of MIST are needed
based on wilderness resource issues; explain
the reasons why it matters based on actual
effects

MIST = Most Intelligent Sensible Tactics
 Capitalize on a ‘teachable moment’ for
wilderness
 Provide feasible alternatives to meet
both wilderness and fire goals
Physical
Resource of wilderness
Emotional
Values
Examples of Subsequent Legislation
Designating Additional
Wilderness Areas
 Central Idaho Wilderness Act of
1980
 Endangered American Wilderness
Act of 1978
Central Idaho Wilderness Act
of 1980
 Established the “Frank Church River
of No Return” Wilderness.
 Provided specific direction (in
addition to direction in 1964 Act) for
managing that area, for example:
Allowed continued
operation of
airstrips
Recognized private
inholdings
The Wilderness Act
Special Provisions
Section 4 (d)
Activities that would not normally be allowed in
Wilderness but are allowed under certain
circumstances, for instance:
Water conservation works, power
projects, transmission lines, other facilities
needed in the public interest
 Grazing of livestock
 Commercial services (outfitter guides)
 Administrative sites
Wilderness Management
Determining the Minimum Requirement
Special Provisions
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