National Wilderness Preservation
System

Wilderness Act
of 1964

National Landscape Conservation
System









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Society


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National Landscape Conservation
System
 

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservervation System to protect wilderness areas on federal public lands, usually undeveloped or restored wildlands of greater than 5000 acres. Congress occasionally adds new areas to the system as recommended by the managing federal agencies or more often as proposed in citizen wilderness proposals.

More than 105 million acres have been designated as wilderness since the passage of the Wilderness Act. However, only 6.5 million acres are designated on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (which manages most of the public land in the Sagebrush Sea). Of approximately 150 million remaining acres of the Sagebrush Sea, only about 2 million acres are protected as wilderness -- less than 2 percent of the region (see interactive wilderness map).

Development, roads, and "mechanized" vehicles and equipment (including bicycles) are prohibited in designated wilderness. Most forms of resource extraction are also prohibited--the glaring exceptions being preexisting livestock grazing and valid mining claims. However, grazing in wilderness may be evolving for the better. Heeding the public's growing displeasure for cows and cowpies in their wilderness areas, Congress established the first legislated cow-free wilderness on Steens Mountain in 2000, a sky island in southeast Oregon's Sagebrush Sea.

All BLM wilderness areas are now part of the new National Landscape Conservation System, a relatively new system established by BLM to manage its most treasured landscapes designated as wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national conservation areas, national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, and national scenic and historic trails. See The Wilderness Society, State of the National Landscape Conservation System: A First Assessment

Sagebrush Sea Wilderness
State
Wilderness Area
Year Est.
    Acres
Colorado

Gunnison Gorge

1999

17,700

 

Black Ridge Canyons

2000

75,550

Idaho

Craters of the Moon

1970

43,243

Montana

UL Bend

1976

20,819

 

Medicine Lake

1976

31,467

 

Red Rock Lakes

1976

32,350

Nevada

Jarbidge Mountains

1964

113,167

 

Alta Toquima

1989

38,000

 

Arc Dome

1989

115,000

 

Boundary Peak

1989

10,000

 

Currant Mountain

1989

36,000

 

East Humboldts

1989

36,900

 

Jarbidge Addition

1989

48,500

 

Mt. Rose

1989

28,000

 

Quinn Canyon

1989

27,000

 

Ruby Mountains

1989

90,000

 

Table Mountain

1989

98,000

 

Grant Range

1989

50,000

 

Mt. Moriah

1989

82,000

 

Santa Rosa

1989

31,000

 

Black Rock Desert

2000

315,700

 

Calico Mountains

2000

65,400

 

East Fork High Rock Canyon

2000

52,800

 

High Rock Canyon/Yellow Rock Canyon

2000

46,600

 

High Rock Lake

2000

59,300

 

Little High Rock

2000

48,700

 

North Black Rock Range

2000

30,800

 

North Jackson Mountains

2000

24,000

 

Pahute Peak

2000

57,400

 

South Jackson Mountains

2000

56,800

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt

1978

29,920

Oregon

Steens Mountain

2000

174,744

South Dakota

Badlands

1976

64,144

Washington

Juniper Dunes

1984

7140

Wyoming

Encampment

1984

10,024

 

TOTAL

 

2,076,268