In December 1980, Congress enacted the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The Act designated approximately 8 million acres, about 40 percent of the Refuge, as Wilderness.
The Service administers the Wilderness Area of the Refuge in accordance with the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964, special provisions of ANILCA, and other state and federal laws. The primary mandate is to maintain the area's wilderness character: The natural and scenic conditions of the land; natural numbers and interactions of wildlife; and the integrity and freedom of ecological processes.
Consistent with protection of wilderness character, the Refuge's Wilderness provides recreational opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife observation, backpacking, river floating and camping; scientific investigations; and subsistence uses. Access by aircraft, motorboat and snow-machine subject to necessary regulations to protect resource values, is allowed. Commercial activities are not allowed except where necessary to facilitate recreational and wilderness purposes. Motorized equipment such as generators and water pumps are not permitted except as a minimum tool to accomplish Wilderness management purposes. (A "minimum tool" is defined as the minimum action or instrument necessary to successfully, safely, and economically accomplish Wilderness management objectives.) Oil and gas activities involving mechanized surface transportation or motorized equipment such as seismic studies, core sampling, and other activities are not allowed unless conducted by an Interior Department agency or contractor in accordance with Section 1010 of ANILCA.
Additional sources of information about Wilderness and the Wilderness Act:
Arctic Refuge and the Wilderness Act - There's a connectionWilderness Stewardship: Protecting Wilderness CharacterLearn About Wilderness (300 kb PDF file)
Overview of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Complete text of the 1964 Wilderness Act. (100 kb pdf file).
The Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, a federal government inter-agency training center devoted to Wilderness Management training.
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