[Federal Register: January 16, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 10)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
Draft Wilderness Stewardship Policy Pursuant to the Wilderness
Act of 1964
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.
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
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),
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.
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.
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
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
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.--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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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]
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