The White River Field Office’s Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) contain more than 79,000 acres over six WSAs within our field office boundary: Black Mountain, Bull Canyon, Oil Spring Mountain, Skull Creek, Willow Creek, and Windy Gulch. These WSAs were established through the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which directed the bureau to inventory and study its roadless areas for wilderness characteristics. Until Congress makes a final determination on a WSA, the BLM manages these areas to preserve their suitability for designation as wilderness.
The Bureau of Land Management manages more than 545 Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) containing nearly 12.7 million acres located in the Western States and Alaska. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 directed the Bureau to inventory and study its roadless areas for wilderness characteristics.
To be designated as a Wilderness Study Area, an area had to have the following characteristics:
Size - roadless areas of at least 5,000 acres of public lands or of a manageable size;
Naturalness - generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature;
Opportunities - provides outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined types of recreation.
In addition, Wilderness Study Areas often have special qualities such as ecological, geological, educational, historical, scientific and scenic values.
The congressionally directed inventory and study of BLM's roadless areas received extensive public input and participation. By November 1980, the BLM had completed field inventories and designated about 25 million acres of WSAs. Since 1980, Congress has reviewed some of these areas and has designated some as wilderness and released others for non-wilderness uses. Until Congress makes a final determination on a WSA, the BLM manages these areas to preserve their suitability for designation as wilderness.