"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life." (John Muir)
What is a wilderness study area and why do these areas exist?
As required by the Federal Land Policy Management Act of 1976, local BLM field offices identified relatively undeveloped areas with special ecological, geological, educational, historical, scientific, or scenic values that may be suitable for wilderness designation.
Until Congress makes a determination on an area's suitability, the agency is tasked with management of that boundaried area to a standard that will not impair its eligibility for wilderness designation.
Wilderness study areas have separate policy with specific management requirements that are different from lands designated to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Most WSAs are typically 5,000 acres or larger, a general criteria for reflecting manageable size for wilderness. Some WSAs are smaller than 5,000 acres because when they were identified, they were adjacent to other areas officially managed to protect wilderness characteristics. Still others exist as remainders, undesignated pieces of WSAs that were designated as Wilderness. Only Congress can release an area from its WSA status.