“In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” — 1964 Wilderness Act, Section 2(a)
The NPS Wilderness Stewardship Program is responsible for the stewardship of over 44 million acres of designated wilderness. Stewardship of the wilderness resource also includes approximately 27 million acres of NPS lands identified as eligible, proposed, recommended, and potential wilderness. In total, approximately 85 percent of all NPS lands are managed as wilderness.
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Become a wilderness steward. Explore the wilderness basics or challenge yourself to go further with the advanced resources.
- NPSWilderness (YouTube channel): A series of short NPS produced videos about wilderness and the people who protect it.
- 1964 Wilderness Act: A public law that establishes a National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) for the permanent good of the whole people in addition to other purposes.
- Management Policies Ch 6: Wilderness Preservation and Management: A chapter in the 2006 Management Policies exclusively covering wilderness preservation and management.
- Director’s Order 41: Wilderness Stewardship: A policy that provides accountability, consistency, and continuity in the NPS wilderness stewardship program, and guides servicewide efforts to meet the requirements of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136).
- Reference Manual 41: Wilderness Stewardship: A comprehensive guide for NPS employees responsible for managing and preserving wilderness character and the wilderness resource throughout the National Park System. RM-41 includes relevant legislation, regulations, management policies, and other instructions or requirements issued through Director’s Order #41, as well as examples, illustrations, recommended practices, and forms.
- Interagency Wilderness 2020 Vision: A PDF document that provides interagency goals, objectives, and actions to guide collaborative stewardship of America’s NWPS.
- Summary of Wilderness Character: A one-page chart outlining qualities, indicators and example measures of wilderness character.
- Keeping It Wild 2: A PDF document with an updated Interagency strategy to monitor trends in wilderness character across the NWPS.
- NPS Wilderness Site: A website that explores different NPS wilderness areas; learn more about the different ways people connect to these special places.
- NPS Wilderness Stewardship Division Site: The Wilderness Stewardship Division (WSD) is an interdisciplinary program that provides guidance, training, and support for wilderness stewardship and management.
- Wilderness Stewardship on InsideNPS (only accessible to NPS employees): A site that provides servicewide leadership and subject matter expertise on law, policy, stewardship, and interagency coordination for NPS wilderness lands and waters.
- Wilderness Connect: A public wilderness information website.
- Interagency Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center: Through training, information, and education the Carhart Center equips and inspires agency leaders and partners to ensure that America’s National Wilderness Preservation System endures for future generations.
- Interagency Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute: An institute that seeks to provide high quality, credible science that responds to the priority needs of wilderness managers, planners, and wilderness organizations—while also advancing scientific scholarship.