UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
http://www.blm.gov
 
August 23, 2010
 
In Reply Refer To:
6100 (170) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 08/27/2010
Instruction Memorandum No. 2010-190
Expires: 09/30/2011   
 
To:                  All WO and Field Officials
 
From:             Director
 
Subject:         Wilderness Character Monitoring Strategy and Implementation Guidance
 DD: 09/30/2010
 
Program Area:  Wilderness Areas.
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) announces implementation of a wilderness character monitoring strategy for wilderness areas and issues the strategy, implementation guidance, and a schedule.
 
Policy/Action: Officials are directed to implement “Keeping It Wild: An Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System” (General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-212, July 2008) (Attachment 1) for designated wilderness areas and the associated “Measuring Attributes of Wilderness Character: BLM Implementation Guide” (Attachment 2). Officials are also directed to review the attached schedule for wilderness area monitoring and request any changes if necessary (Attachment 3).
 
This policy is specific only to designated wilderness areas. By law, the BLM is responsible for preserving the wilderness character of each wilderness area. “Keeping It Wild: An Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System” describes the process for improving wilderness stewardship by providing managers with a tool to assess how wilderness character in each wilderness area is changing over time, and how stewardship actions affect trends in wilderness character. “Measuring Attributes of Wilderness Character: BLM Implementation Guide” provides detailed guidance
to the field on how to apply the individual measures for selected indicators of the qualities of wilderness character, which should result in more consistent application of the strategy across BLM wilderness areas. All other Federal agencies that manage wilderness have recently adopted the “Keeping It Wild Strategy,” so for the first time since the inception of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), a uniform approach across the NWPS will be taken to assess wilderness character conditions and monitor trends.
 
Timeframe: This policy is effective immediately. Collection of baseline wilderness character data for specified wilderness areas as identified on the attached schedule must be completed by September 30, 2010, unless an alternative schedule has been requested and approved by
WO-171. Requests to revise the schedule must be submitted to Dave Harmon, Senior Wilderness Specialist, Division of the National Landscape Conservation System (WO-171) at dave_harmon@blm.gov  by September 3, 2010.  The scheduling goal is to complete collection of baseline data for all BLM wilderness areas by end of Fiscal Year 2014. Beginning in 2015, approximately 1/5 of the BLM’s wilderness areas will be assessed annually and reports generated regarding trends in wilderness character changes. The reporting requirement will be on a rotating basis, so that reports on all wilderness areas will occur at least once in any 5-year period.
 
Budget Impact: This policy will cause some minor cost increases during initial baseline data gathering efforts in some wilderness areas, but will result in long-term cost savings.
 
Background: The 1964 Wilderness Act (P.L. 88-577) states that the agency responsible for administering any area designated as wilderness shall be responsible for preserving the wilderness character of the area (Section 4(b)). The Wilderness Policy Council, composed of representatives of the four wilderness managing agencies determined that a common approach should be developed to assist each agency in carrying out its preservation responsibilities specified in the Wilderness Act.  A multi-year effort to develop an interagency approach to monitoring wilderness character in wilderness areas resulted in publication of the “Keeping It Wild: An Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System” (General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-212, July 2008). BLM representatives from the Arthur Carhart Wilderness Training Center cooperated with scientists at the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Center to develop and publish the “Keeping It Wild Strategy.”
 
Following publication of “Keeping It Wild,” a small interdisciplinary team of BLM employees created the measures and the techniques needed to generate data for each measure and conducted field pilot tests in several wilderness areas. The result is the “BLM Implementation Guide.” The BLM has committed to an interagency effort to collect baseline data conforming to the Keeping It Wild Strategy on all of its wilderness areas by the end of  Fiscal Year 2014, which corresponds to the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.  The schedule for collecting the data for each wilderness area will ensure that all data is collected by 2014.
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This IM transmits guidance that will be
incorporated into BLM Manual 8560, Management of Designated Wilderness Areas. 

Coordination: This policy was coordinated with the Renewable Resources and Planning Directorate, and the wilderness program leadership for the U.S. Forest Service (Terry Knupp), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Nancy Roeper), and National Park Service (Garry Oye).

Contact: Jeff Jarvis, Division Chief, National Landscape Conservation System,

(202) 912-7170; Dave Harmon, Senior Wilderness Specialist, (202) 912-7177.
 
 
Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:
Robert V. Abbey                                                          Robert M. Williams
Director                                                                       Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
 
 
3 Attachments