[Federal Register: January 16, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 10)]
[Page 3708-3731]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 3708]]



Fish and Wildlife Service


Draft Wilderness Stewardship Policy Pursuant to the Wilderness 
Act of 1964

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: We propose to modify our policy for implementing the 
Wilderness Act of 1964 and the National Wildlife Refuge System 
Administration Act of 1966 as amended, as Part 610 Chapters 1-7 of the 
Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. Congress calls for the establishment 
of a National Wilderness Preservation System to secure an ``enduring 
resource of wilderness'' for the American public. This policy updates 
guidance on administrative and public activities on wilderness within 
the National Wildlife Refuge System.

DATES: Comments must be received by March 19, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Send comments concerning this draft wilderness stewardship 
policy via mail, fax or email to: National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670, 
Arlington, Virginia 22203; fax (703)358-2248; e-mail 
Wilderness_Policy_Comments@fws.gov. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for 
further information on submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth Souheaver, National Wildlife 
Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Telephone (703)358-1744.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides the 
basis for wilderness protection on the National Wildlife Refuge System 
(System). It clearly establishes that, as we carry out the Service's 
mission, the System mission and goals, and the individual refuge 
establishing purposes in areas designated as wilderness, we do it in a 
way that preserves wilderness character. This policy gives refuge 
managers uniform direction and procedures for making decisions 
regarding conservation and uses of the System wilderness areas.

Purpose of This Draft Policy

    The purpose of this draft policy is to implement the Wilderness Act 
of 1964 within the System. When finalized, this policy will replace 
existing policy found in the Refuge Manual. It prescribes how the 
Federal land manager preserves the character and qualities of 
designated wilderness while managing for the refuge establishing 
purpose(s), maintains outstanding opportunities for solitude and a 
primitive and unconfined type of recreation, and conducts minimum 
requirements analyses before taking any action that may impact 
wilderness character.
    This policy includes the following chapters.
    Chapter 1 establishes responsibility for wilderness stewardship, 
defines terms, and establishes training requirements.
    Chapter 2 describes the broad framework within which we manage 
wilderness, discusses the philosophical underpinnings of wilderness, 
requires refuges to fulfill the establishing purpose(s) of the refuge 
and the wildlife conservation mission of the System in ways that 
prevent degradation of the wilderness that otherwise comply with the 
requirements of the Wilderness Act, and establishes a process for 
conducting minimum requirements analyses.
    Chapter 3 addresses the general administration of wilderness and 
natural and cultural resource management. It clarifies the 
circumstances under which generally prohibited uses (temporary roads, 
motor vehicles, motorized equipment, motorboats, mechanical transport, 
landing of aircraft, structures, and installations) may be necessary 
for wilderness protection. It addresses commercial uses, research, and 
public access. It confirms that we will generally not modify habitat, 
species population levels, or natural ecological processes in refuge 
wilderness unless doing so maintains or restores ecological integrity 
that has been degraded by human influence or is necessary to protect or 
recover threatened or endangered species.
    Chapter 4 addresses public use management in wilderness. It 
explains that wilderness areas will emphasize providing opportunities 
for solitude and a primitive and unconfined type of recreation. 
Appropriate recreational uses in wilderness are compatible, wilderness-
dependent, nonmotorized activities that involve no mechanical 
transport. This includes the six priority wildlife-dependent uses 
(hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, wildlife photography, 
environmental education, and environmental interpretation), if they are 
compatible. Special needs for persons with disabilities are also 
    Chapter 5 confirms that wildland fires are an ecological and 
evolutionary process of wilderness, and that we respond to such fires 
according to the refuge Fire Management Plan and in accordance with 
minimum requirements. We may use prescribed fire to maintain or restore 
ecological integrity that has been degraded by human influence or is 
necessary to protect or recover threatened or endangered species.
    Chapter 6 provides guidance on developing Wilderness Management 
    Chapter 7 describes the three-part process for conducting 
wilderness reviews. An inventory identifies areas that meet the basic 
definition of wilderness; a study evaluates all the values, resources, 
and uses within the area; and the recommendation follows upon 
completion of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Fish and Wildlife Service Directives System

    Because many of our field stations are located in remote areas 
across the United States, it is important that all employees have 
available and know the current policy and management directives that 
affect their daily activities. The Fish and Wildlife Service Directives 
System, consisting of the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Director's 
Orders, and National Policy Issuances, is the vehicle for issuing the 
standing and continuing policy and management directives of the 
Service. New directives are posted on the Internet upon approval, 
ensuring that all employees have prompt access to the most current 
    The Fish and Wildlife Service Manual contains our standing and 
continuing directives with which our employees must comply and has 
regulatory force and effect within the Service. We use it to implement 
our authorities and to set forth our means of compliance with statutes, 
executive orders, and Departmental directives. It establishes the 
requirements and procedures to assist our employees in carrying out our 
responsibilities and activities.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service Manual, Director's Orders, and 
National Policy Issuances are available on the Internet at http://
www.fws.gov/directives/direct.html. When finalized, we will incorporate 
this wilderness stewardship policy into the Fish and Wildlife Service 
Manual as Part 610 Chapters 1-7.


    Our authorities to manage wilderness include:
    A. Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136)
    B. Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980 
(16 U.S.C. 410 hh--3233, 43 U.S.C. 1602-1784),

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    C. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 
U.S.C. 668dd-ee), as amended.
    D. Specific Service Wilderness Area Authorities. Public Laws 90-
532, 91-504, 92-364, 93-429, 93-550, 93-632, 94-557, 95-450, 96-487, 
96-560, 97-211, 98-140, and 101-628.

Comment Solicitation

    We seek public comments on this draft wilderness stewardship policy 
and will take into consideration comments and any additional 
information received during the 60-day comment period. If you wish to 
comment, you may submit your comments by any one of several methods. 
You may mail comments to: National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service, 440l North Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, 
Virginia 22203. You may comment via the Internet to: 
Wilderness_Policy_Comments@fws.gov. Please submit Internet comments as 
an ASCII file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of 
encryption. Please also include: ``Attn: 1018-AG19'' and your name and 
return address in your Internet message. If you do not receive a 
confirmation from the system that we have received your Internet 
message, contact us directly at (703)358-1744. You may also fax 
comments to: National Wildlife Refuge System, (703)358-2248. Finally, 
you may hand-deliver comments to the address mentioned above.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent 
allowable by law. In some circumstances, we would withhold from the 
record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to 
withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at 
the beginning of your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous 
comments. We will make all submissions from organizations or businesses 
and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or 
officials of organizations or businesses, available for public 
inspection in their entirety.
    This draft Fish and Wildlife Service Manual Wilderness Stewardship 
policy will be available on the National Wildlife Refuge System web 
site (http://refuges.fws.gov) during the 60-day comment period.

Required Determinations

    1. Regulatory Planning and Review. In accordance with the criteria 
in Executive Order 12866, this document is not a significant regulatory 
action. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes the final 
determination under Executive Order 12866.
    a. This document will not have an annual economic effect of $100 
million or adversely affect an economic sector, productivity, jobs, the 
environment, or other units of the government. A cost-benefit and full 
economic analysis is not required. The purpose of this document is to 
update the wilderness management policy implemented by the Wilderness 
Act of 1964 pursuant to the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement 
Act of 1997. A large portion of the updated policy addresses 
administrative actions and procedures that will enhance the public's 
wilderness experience by better preserving wilderness character. The 
updated policy makes only minor modifications to existing refuge 
wilderness public use programs. These modifications include: 
encouraging the use of Leave No Trace techniques that will leave the 
wilderness unimpaired for subsequent users; prohibiting extreme sports 
(which currently rarely occur); emphasizing the importance of solitude, 
risk, and challenge in a wilderness experience; encouraging education 
programs to better inform the public about wilderness; monitoring 
public use and its physical and social effects; and addressing the 
special needs of persons with disabilities. The basic restrictions on 
public use have not changed from current policy: we limit public travel 
to nonmotorized, nonmechanized means; we allow only commercial uses 
necessary for realizing the recreational purposes of the wilderness; 
and we allow scientific studies that conform to minimum requirements.
    The data are insufficient to provide more than broad estimates 
about the effects of this updated policy on public use of wilderness 
areas on national wildlife refuges. The Service expects that refuges 
that improve the quality of their wilderness areas, and thereby 
increase the opportunities for high-quality wilderness experiences, 
will see an increase in public use. The Service estimates that on 
balance there will be an increase of 10 percent in the public's use of 
wilderness areas on refuges.
    Following a best-case scenario, three quantifiable outcomes would 
be attributable to the updating of the wilderness policy. First, if 75 
percent of the refuges that currently have designated wilderness were 
to establish a quality wilderness experience, it would mean an 
estimated 297,929 user days with a higher level of consumer surplus 
(Table 1). Second, if an additional 10 percent participation rate in 
wilderness experiences took place, it would mean an additional 39,724 
user days. Third, some of the former wilderness users would switch to 
sites that allow motorized entrance or some other prohibited mode in 
wilderness areas. This last effect would be offset by new entrants to 
the wilderness experience, therefore, we estimate only the additional 
consumer surplus from new entrants since we have no reason to believe a 
change in consumer surplus would occur for those users who choose 
alternative sites with characteristics similar to what they were 
    Since 1991, the trend in wildlife-related activities away from home 
has been increasing at a slow but steady rate, so we have reason to 
believe that quality experiences will attract new participants. Using 
the value of the difference in the upper and lower bounds of the 95 
percent confidence interval for average consumer surplus to represent 
the estimate of the increase in consumer surplus for higher quality 
fishing and hunting (Walsh, Johnson, and McKean, 1990) yields an 
estimated increase in consumer surplus of $7.1 million annually. The 
use of the 95 percent confidence interval will remove the results of 
outlier studies and will be an acceptable estimate of quality 
differences in the consumer surplus estimates. To this we add the 
increase in consumer surplus for an estimated 10 percent new 
participants, for a total of $8.6 million annually attributable to the 
updated policy on wilderness management.
    The probability of upgrading all refuges with wilderness programs 
to true wilderness characteristics, as defined by Congress, is very 
low. Resource constraints have kept these refuges from upgrading 
wilderness experiences, and it is unlikely that this updated policy 
will cause all refuges with wilderness designation to upgrade their 
programs immediately. As a result, we do not expect that this document 
will increase consumer surplus by as much as $8.6 million annually. 
Consequently, this document will have a small measurable economic 
benefit on the U.S. economy but will not have an annual effect of $100 
million or more needed for a determination as a significant rulemaking 
    b. This document will not create inconsistencies with other 
agencies' actions. This updated policy has been developed with the 
assistance of personnel versed in Federal wilderness

[[Page 3710]]

policy, and is consistent with the wilderness policies of the U.S. 
Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management. 
An interagency wilderness committee meets monthly to discuss and 
coordinate on wilderness issues. The committee received a copy of the 
draft policy update and identified no major inconsistencies.
    c. This document will not materially affect entitlements, grants, 
user fees, loan programs, or the rights and obligations of their 
recipients. This updated policy prescribes the management of designated 
wilderness within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Access to 
wilderness will be consistent with the outstanding rights-of-way, 
easements of record, enabling legislation, or other rights granted by 
law. User fees will not be charged as a result of this policy.
    d. This document will not raise novel legal or policy issues. This 
policy is a revision and clarification of similar policy finalized in 
May 1986 and, as such, does not present any significant opportunity for 
novel issues.
    2. Regulatory Flexibility Act. We certify that this document will 
not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq.). A Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required. 
Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required.
    This policy is administrative, legal, technical, and procedural in 
nature and provides updated instructions for the maintenance of 
wilderness areas on the National Wildlife Refuge System. This policy 
does not increase the types of recreation allowed on the Refuge System 
but establishes an emphasis on the characteristics desired for a 
wilderness experience. As a result, opportunities for wilderness 
experiences on national wildlife refuges may increase. The maintenance 
of wilderness characteristics are likely to increase visitor activity 
on the national wildlife refuge. But, as stated above, there is a 
slight increase in the trend for this activity so the increase may not 
be that of a substitute site for the activity. At least some, if not 
all, of the increase will be in participation rates for wilderness use. 
To the extent visitors spend time and money in the area of the refuge 
that they would not have spent there anyway, they contribute new income 
to the regional economy and benefit local businesses.
    For purposes of analysis, we will assume that any increase in 
refuge visitation is a pure addition to the supply of the available 
activity. This will result in a best-case scenario and is expected to 
overstate the benefits to local businesses. The latest information on 
the distances traveled for fishing and hunting activities indicates 
that over 80 percent of the participants travel less than 100 miles 
(160 km) from home to engage in the activity. This indicates that 
participants will spend travel-related expenditures in their local 
economy. Since participation is scattered across the country, many 
small businesses benefit. Expenditures for food and lodging, 
transportation, and other incidental expenses are identified in the 
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated 
Recreation. Using the average expenditures for these categories for 
wildlife-related recreation away from home with the expected additional 
participation on the Refuge System yields the following estimates 
(Table 1).

                Table 1.--Estimation of Possible Wilderness Opportunities With New Refuge Policy
                                                  Refuge surplus   Consumer per   Without policy    With policy
                                                      visits            day        update (base)   update change
Refuge Visits With:
    Lower Quality Wilderness....................         297,929          $12.62      $3,759,867      $7,126,468
    High Quality Wilderness.....................          99,310           36.54       3,628,778
      Total Refuge Wilderness Visits............         397,239                        7388,645
Increased Wilderness Visits (10%)...............          39,724           36.54                       1,451,511
      Total Increase in Consumer Surplus........                                                       8,577,979

    Using a national impact multiplier for wildlife-associated 
recreation developed for the report ``1996 National and State Economic 
Impacts of Wildlife Watching'' for the estimated increase in direct 
expenditures yields a total economic impact of $46.0 million (Table 2). 
Since we know that most of the fishing and hunting (and most likely 
other wildlife-dependent recreation activities) occurs within 100 miles 
(160 km) of a participant's residence, then it is unlikely that most of 
this spending would be ``new'' money coming into a local economy and, 
therefore, would be offset with a decrease in some other sector of the 
local economy. The net gain to the local economies would be no more 
than $46.0 million and most likely considerably less. Since 80 percent 
of the participants travel less than 100 miles (160 km) to engage in 
hunting and fishing activities (and we assume that a similar 
relationship would hold for other wildlife-dependent activities), their 
spending patterns would not add new money in the local economy and, 
therefore, the real impact would be on the order of $9.2 million 

   Table 2.--Estimated Expenditures Associated With Additional Refuge

Total Refuge wilderness visits..........................         397,239
A 10% increase in visits................................          39,724
Average Expenditures per trip...........................            $397
Total direct expenditures...............................     $15,770,428
National impact multiplier..............................            2.92
Total impact............................................     $46,049,650
80% of impact is a transfer.............................     $36,839,720
20% of impact is new money benefit......................  $9,209,930'http://www.wilderness.net/carhart/docs/
min req dec guide.PDF and by written request to: National Wildlife 
Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax 
Drive, Room 670, Arlington, Virginia 22003.

Exhibit 5.--Light and Noise Pollution

Protection of Dark Night Skies

    Dark night skies, unpolluted by manmade light, are integral to 
the wilderness experience and allow visitors to fully appreciate the 
stars and planets. Dark night skies are essential to some wildlife. 
We will cooperate with neighbors and local government agencies to 
minimize the intrusion of artificial light in wilderness areas.

Noise Pollution

    We will strive to preserve the natural quiet and the natural 
sounds associated with wilderness (for example, the sounds of the 
winds in the trees or the howl of a wolf). We should monitor 
activities causing excessive or unnecessary unnatural sounds in and 
adjacent to wilderness areas, including low-elevation aircraft 
overflights. We will take action to prevent or minimize unnatural 
sounds that adversely affect wilderness resources or values or 
visitors' enjoyment of them.

Exhibit 6.--Leave No Trace

Memorandum of Understanding

    Note: Exhibit 6 is not printed in the Federal Register. It is 
available on the internet at http://refuges.fws.gov/library/ or by 
written request to: National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 670, Arlington, 
Virginia 22003.

Exhibit 7.--Primary Interpretive Themes for Wilderness

    Interpretation provides opportunities for people to forge 
intellectual and emotional connections to the meanings inherent in 
wilderness resources. Interpretive themes communicate specific 
messages based upon the significance of the wilderness resource and 
experience to the American people. They are the stories through 
which we convey the values of wilderness to the public. These themes 
connect wilderness to larger ideas as well as universal meanings and 
values. They are the building blocks on which we base interpretive 
products and services for wilderness. The interpretive themes for 
wilderness areas are:

          Primary Interpretive Themes for Wilderness Education

Theme A......................  The concept of wilderness, codified in
                                law, originated in the United States
                                with the conviction that some wild land
                                resources are most valuable to Americans
                                left in their natural state (e.g.
                                social, scientific, economic,
                                educational, recreational, and cultural
Theme B......................  As a foundation for healthy and diverse
                                ecosystems, officially designated
                                wilderness and other remaining wild
                                lands provide critical habitat for rare
                                and endangered species and play a
                                significant role in the overall health
                                of natural systems worldwide (e.g.
                                watersheds, air quality).
Theme C......................  By law, we manage wilderness differently
                                than other federal lands in order to
                                retain its primeval character and
                                preserve wilderness as a special place
                                for humans to examine their relationship
                                to the natural world.
Theme D......................  Wilderness offers opportunities for
                                personal renewal, inspiration, artistic
                                expression, pride of ownership of our
                                shared heritage, and the prospect of
                                hope for the future. Wilderness has
                                inspired and continues to inspire a
                                distinctive genre of literature and art,
                                enriching millions of lives in the
                                United States and around the world.
Theme E......................  Wilderness provides opportunities for
                                physical and mental challenge, risk and
                                reward, renewal, self-reliance,
                                solitude, and serves as a haven from the
                                pressures of modern society (e.g.
                                exploration, discovery, and recreation).
Theme F......................  The survival of wilderness depends on
                                individual and societal commitment to
                                the idea of wilderness and on
                                appropriate visitor use, behavior, and
                                values (e.g. appreciation, values,
Theme G......................  Wilderness provides a unique setting for
                                teaching ecosystem stewardship as well
                                as science, math, literature, art and
                                other subjects using an
                                interdisciplinary approach (e.g. civics,
                                outdoor skills, music, and others).
Theme H......................  Wilderness contains primitive areas
                                relatively undisturbed by human
                                activities where scientific research may
                                reveal information about natural
                                processes and living systems that may
                                have wide-ranging applications and may
                                serve as global indicators of ecological
Theme I......................  Cultural and archeological sites found in
                                wilderness can provide a more complete
                                picture of human history and culture.
                                (This includes indigenous peoples,
                                conquests, colonialism and resistance,
                                freedom, independence, and ingenuity, a
                                sense of connectedness, stewardship, and
                                human survival.)
Theme J......................  The Wilderness Act created a National
                                Wilderness Preservation System that
                                preserves some of the most unique
                                ecological, geological, scientific,
                                scenic, and historical values in the
                                National Park System, the National
                                Wildlife Refuge System, National Forest
                                System, and in public lands administered
                                by the Bureau of Land Management, and
                                that the public and Congress have
                                determined to require special

[[Page 3731]]

Theme K......................  Wilderness visitors must accept certain
                                inherent risks associated with weather,
                                terrain, water, wildlife, and other
                                natural elements. We cannot guarantee
                                visitor safety, but we can enhance it
                                with proper trip planning, appropriate
                                skill, and responsible behavior.

Exhibit 8.--References

    Hendee, John C., Stankey, George H., Lucas, Robert C., 1990, 
Wilderness Management, North American Press, Golden, Colorado, pp. 
    Zahniser, Howard, 1956, ``The Need for Wilderness Areas,'' The 
Living Wilderness, Winter-Spring 1956-57, No. 59, pp 37-43.

Exhibit 9.--Wilderness Management Plan Outline

    I. Introduction.
    A. Wilderness establishment, including contents of pertinent 
laws, date of establishment, any changes from Secretary's 
recommendation, pertinent committee report discussion, and special 
    B. Objectives for the wilderness area and their relationship to 
the refuge's purposes and objectives, and System mission, goals, and 
objectives, including protection of the air quality related values 
of Class I wilderness areas.
    II. Description of the Wilderness Area.
    A. Legal and narrative description of the area.
    B. Map displaying Service land unit boundary and wilderness area 
    C. A description of the current or baseline situation of the 
wilderness resource, including a description of the wilderness area, 
natural conditions, management activities, existing facilities, and 
public use levels and activities.
    III. Public Involvement. Describe public involvement activities 
and provide a summary and analysis of comments received and how the 
plan responds to them.
    IV. Management.
    A. Detailed discussions of existing and planned biological, 
public use, cultural resource, and administrative management 
activities and permitted uses.
    B. Procedures for determining and documenting the minimum 
requirement for administrative actions we will take in wilderness 
that might require a generally prohibited use.
    C. The minimum requirement analyses for anticipated application 
of a generally prohibited use.
    D. Descriptions of how valid existing rights and congressionally 
authorized uses are to be administered to provide protection to 
wilderness values.
    E. An explanation of how we will coordinate with adjoining 
wilderness units so that visitors traveling from one wilderness to 
another can do so with a minimum of bureaucratic impediments.
    F. Indicators of change in resource conditions; standards for 
measuring that change; and desired conditions, or thresholds, that 
will trigger management actions to reduce or prevent impacts on the 
wilderness. Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) is one framework 
designed for establishing indicators, standards and desired 
conditions. (See Hendee, Stankey, and Lucas (1990) in Exhibit 8 
    V. Research. Describe any past and current research, and 
identify research needs.
    VI. Funds and Personnel. Provide a discussion of staff and funds 
needed to manage the wilderness.
    VII. Monitoring. Identify monitoring requirements and thresholds 
for action, including procedures for measuring baseline air quality.
    VIII. Implementation Schedule. Provide a schedule of 
implementation, prioritization of action items, staff assignments, 
and funding requirements to adequately administer the area.
    IX. Compatibility Determination
    X. Review and Approval.
    XI. Appendix.
    A. A copy of the Wilderness Act.
    B. A copy of the legislation establishing the wilderness.
    C. Service wilderness regulations (50 CFR 35), except Alaska.
    D. Wilderness study report for the wilderness.
    E. NEPA documentation, if applicable.
    F. Public hearing record from wilderness study.
    G. Congressional hearing record.
    H. Congressional committee report accompanying the authorizing 

    Dated: November 29, 2000.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-18 Filed 1-12-01; 8:45 am]