Idaho's Mount Borah
Soaring over the Snake River Birds of Prey NCA Survey pin Teepees at Idaho's Sacajawea Interpretive Center in Salmon Riding Idaho's rangelands Kayaking on Idaho's scenic rivers
BLM>Idaho>Programs>National Conservation Lands (NCL)>Wilderness
Print Page


Congress established the National Wilderness Preservation System to ensure that an increasing population, expanding settlement and 
growing mechanization would not occupy and modify all areas of the United States.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness character and specifies the uses of Wilderness and the activities allowed or prohibited within its boundaries.  In general, wilderness areas offer a contrast with lands where human activities dominate the landscape.

Only Congress, with presidential approval, may designate lands as Wilderness.  Section 603 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) makes the BLM a full partner in the National Wilderness Preservation System, along with the other Federal resource management agencies.

Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009

The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-11) designated 517,000 acres of public lands in Owyhee County in southwestern Idaho as Wilderness in Title I - Subtitle F of the Act. The Act also releases 199,000 acres of Wilderness Study Areas to multiple use, designates 318 miles of waterways under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, provides for protection of cultural resources particularly important to the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, and maintains access for hunting and other recreational activities.

The BLM is currently preparing a management plan (WMP) for these wilderness areas and the Wild & Scenic River segments also designated in the Act.  A separate travel management plan in being developed for routes in Owyhee County outside of designated Wilderness.  A proposed land exchange involving BLM lands and ldaho State lands is also currently under consideration.

Deep Creek confluence with the Owyhee River

What is a cherrystem?

Cherrystems are spurs of roads in Wilderness areas that do not themselves have wilderness status. The boundary of a Wilderness area extends up one side of a cherrystem route, around its terminus and down the other side of the roadway, to allow for motorized or mechanized activity on the roadway that is prohibited in the Wilderness area.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 designated a number of cherrystem routes that cross entirely through the Big Jacks Creek, Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers, and Owyhee River Wilderness Areas.

All cherrystem routes are signed and open to motorized and mechanical transport unless posted otherwise. Please stay on established cherrystem routes to protect adjacent wilderness.

Rim Rock High School students are fabricating and installing cherrystem signs in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness areas (below). 

Cherrystem sign 

BLM Publishes Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Management Plan: Management Guidelines for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic River area finalized

Wilderness Wednesdays
BLM-Idaho celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act by featuring a new Wilderness adventure each week in 2014   

Wonder into Wilderness with our outdoor lessons for curious young learners | More Wilderness activities

   Wilderness maps | 

Wilderness Fact Sheet

cave draw along the Bruneau River in the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness, designated in March 2009