Rocky Mountain Research Station Publications

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RMRS-GTR-234WWW: A framework to evaluate proposals for scientific activities in wilderness

Landres, Peter, ed. 2010. A framework to evaluate proposals for scientific activities in wilderness. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-234WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 74 p.

Every year, the four Federal wilderness management agencies - U.S. DOI Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the USDA Forest Service - receive hundreds of proposals to conduct scientific studies within wilderness. There is no consistent and comprehensive framework for evaluating such proposals that accounts for the unique legal requirements of conducting such work inside wilderness, specifically the primary mandate of the 1964 Wilderness Act to "preserve wilderness character." This mandate demands that the standard for approving scientific activities be higher inside wilderness than in other areas. This evaluation framework provides an approach for thinking through and documenting how proposals for scientific activities in wilderness may be evaluated in these wilderness management agencies based on four sequential filters: (1) Initial Review Filter, (2) Quality of Proposal Filter, (3) Legal and Policy Filter, and (4) Impacts and Benefits Filter. By using this framework, managers and scientists alike know up-front how proposals will be evaluated, fostering better communication. This framework aims to reduce conflict, help make defensible decisions, and document how those decisions are made. Our goals in developing this framework are to increase the relevance of science to improving wilderness stewardship and to bring the benefits of wilderness to society while preserving wilderness character.

Keywords: wilderness, scientific activities, scientific evaluation, wilderness permitting

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Title: RMRS-GTR-234WWW: A framework to evaluate proposals for scientific activities in wilderness
Electronic Publish Date: January 13, 2010
Expires: Indefinite
Last Update:
January 13, 2010

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