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Wilderness at arm's length: On the outside looking in at special provisions in wilderness

Posted date: July 10, 2012
Publication Year: 
2012
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 134-146.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

While there is a long history of research on factors influencing wilderness recreation visitor experiences, there has been little focused research to understand the experiences of users visiting wilderness under legislative special provisions or the impact of these special provisions on wilderness recreation visitors. There are some exceptions. For example, contrasting motorboat user and canoeist experiences and their impacts on each other in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness were topics of research even before the Wilderness Act was passed. Livestock grazing in wilderness is a particular kind of commercial special provision which impacts visitor experiences and has been studied in Colorado wildernesses. River floaters in at least one Idaho Wilderness can encounter motorized jet boats (a special provision use).We know these are often negative encounters for floaters. We commonly approach the jet boat user as a nonconforming user and thus a source of the conflict rather than trying to understand the experiences they are receiving and how to manage encounters to benefit both types of users. Aircraft, a unique special provision providing access in a few places in the Lower 48 and broadly in Alaska, play different roles in experiences in different places. Commercial use, though it is sometimes described as a traditional use of wilderness in the U.S., is actually a special provision in the Wilderness Act to the extent necessary for realizing recreational or other wilderness purposes. There is not a great deal of evidence that non-commercial visitors are influenced negatively by encounters with commercial visitors, though commercial and non-commercial user experiences are believed to be very different. Some limited research has begun to look at combinations of commercial and access special provisions (such as Denali visitors who use air taxis to reach remote glaciers, or Denali visitors who take a bus on a road bordered by the Wilderness). This research describes unique experiences associated with wilderness dependent activities that may be only "near wilderness" experiences or experiences that keep wilderness at arm’s length, in the process revealing some values of protecting these places as wilderness not previously described.

Citation

Watson, Alan E. 2012. Wilderness at arm's length: On the outside looking in at special provisions in wilderness. In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 134-146.