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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

Wilderness Management

The Wilderness Act of 1964 is the basic charger for wilderness management direction. Wilderness management must recognize that wilderness is preserved for conservation, cultural, education, historical, recreational, scenic, scientific and wildlife values.

Within the context of the Wilderness Act, the primary wilderness management objective should be to protect "an enduring resource for wilderness" from significant degradation by human influence and use.

Each wilderness possesses individual characteristics. The application of wilderness management techniques should reflect the individuality of each wilderness within the context of requirements to preserve the wilderness resource. Wilderness management plans should provide for flexibility in meeting conditions that vary with location and time.

Pre-existing non-conforming structures or uses may have been included when a wilderness was designated. Maintenance and/or replacement of such structures and continuation of such uses should be determined within the context of site-specific management requirements of each wilderness.

Wilderness serves as a benchmark, permitting comparison of relatively unmodified environments with other environments. The protection of this benchmark function may, in some cases, require limitations on use.

Wilderness management should allow the maximum range of public-use opportunities consistent with the preservation of the wilderness resource. Within this limit, the experiences of the individual user should not be manipulated or controlled. Limitation and/or zoning of use may be necessary to accomplish the protection of the wilderness resource. Management techniques which reduce impact on the wilderness resource in fairly non-restrictive or subtle ways should be employed before user restrictions which ration or control use. In such instances, user restrictions should be administered in a way which is as compatible as possible with the freedom that one normally seeks in wilderness.

In wilderness management, natural ecological processes should be allowed to operate freely to the maximum extent feasible to promote, perpetuate, and, where necessary, restore the wilderness character of the land. Minimal manipulation may be allowed in order to restore human-disturbed environments or offset human-induced restrictions on natural processes.

The managing agencies should develop site-specific wilderness management plans for each wilderness. Development and adoption of such plans should require maximum public involvement at all stages, and the Sierra Club urges all concerned citizens to participate. In all instances the minimum tool for management should be used.

The results of continuing research and experimentation should be considered in periodic review of particular management plans.

Monitoring, measuring and scientific study of the wilderness environment should be allowed as long as it is as unobtrusive as possible. Restraint should be applied to and by the managing agencies over the impacts of research, experimentation and environmental monitoring so as to protect the resource and experience.

Adopted by the Board of Directors November 5-6, 1977; amended July 8, 1995


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