Five federal agencies have signed an agreement that will guide interagency collaboration and vision to ensure the continued preservation of nearly 110 million acres of wilderness.
The agencies, which make up the National Wilderness Preservation System, are the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Geological Survey, all under the U.S. Department of Interior; and the U.S. Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The “2020 Vision: Interagency stewardship priorities for America’s National Wilderness Preservation System ” details interagency work and partnerships with non-government organizations for the management of wilderness. The plan has three themes:
• Protect wilderness resources.
• Connect people to their wilderness heritage.
• Foster excellence in wilderness leadership and coordination.
The document also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, which led to creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
There are 758 wilderness areas in 44 states and Puerto Rico that showcase some of the nation’s most pristine landscapes. In Washington, 31 wilderness areas protect 4.5 million acres, including Alpine Lakes, Glacier View, Mount Baker, Pasayten and Washington Islands.
“The character of wilderness is unique because of its combination of biophysical, experiential, and symbolic ideals that distinguish it from other protected places,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a news release. “Wilderness can be a life-changing experience, and it is part of our mission to preserve wilderness for future generations. Our challenge is to offer this experience to an ever-diversifying public while remaining true to our stewardship mission.”
In 1964, about 9 million acres of Forest Service primitive and wild areas in 13 states immediately received permanent wilderness protection. Today nearly five percent of the United States is designated wilderness with more than half of that land in Alaska, according to the news release.
“We stand on the shoulders of conservation giants like Arthur Carhart, Aldo Leopold, Bob Marshall and Howard Zahniser who played significant roles in establishing what we now know as wilderness,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in the release. “Today, we renew our commitment to interagency leadership so that our managers, partners, and volunteers have the tools, skills, and science they need to address a host of challenges as we work to ensure an enduring legacy.”
During the next five years, the agencies will focus on four priorities:
• Completing wilderness character inventories across the wilderness system using standardized interagency protocols and institutionalizing ongoing monitoring.
• Fostering relevancy of wilderness to contemporary society by inspiring and nurturing life-long connections between people of diverse cultures and wilderness.
• Strengthening commitment to and support of the interagency Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute to foster excellence in interagency leadership and coordination.
• Conducting climate vulnerability and adaptation assessments across the National Wilderness Preservation System to improved ecological resiliency across broad landscapes.
To learn more, visit wilderness.net.
ANOTHER FEE PROPOSAL
Prices are likely to go up for visiting and boating at the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation area next year as the National Park Service is proposing fee increases at parks across the country.
Current fees at Lake Roosevelt were set in 1995.
The proposed camping fee for an individual campsite would increase from $10 a night to $18. Group sites would increase about $2.
The weekly launch fee would increase from $6 to $8.
Annual boat launch permits would increase from $40 to $45. However, no discounted season passes would be offered for purchases early or late in the season. In recent years, season launch permits purchased between Jan. 1 and April 30 cost $30.
Park managers say the increased fees are needed by the parks for improvements.
The public can comment on the proposals until Oct. 31 online at nps.gov/laro.