Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Inventory

Managing the wilderness resource is part of the BLM’s multiple use mission. Lands with wilderness characteristics provide a range of uses and benefits in addition to their value as settings for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. Section 201 of FLPMA requires the BLM to maintain an inventory of all public lands and their resources and other values, including wilderness characteristics. It also provides that the preparation and maintenance of the inventory shall not, of itself, change or prevent change of the management or use of public lands. 

BLM Colorado maintains a lands with wilderness characteristics inventory in each of our field offices throughout the state. Each inventory is a snapshot of the existing character of the landscape at a particular time; thus, the BLM will continue to update the inventories as inventoried conditions on the ground change over time in response to both human activities and natural environmental changes. Inventoried lands may be subject to further inventory if the BLM receives new information from the public meeting criteria detailed in BLM Manual 6310 – Conducting Wilderness Characteristics Inventory on BLM Lands.

In order for an area to qualify as lands with wilderness characteristics, the area must possess sufficient size, naturalness, and outstanding opportunities for either solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. In addition, it may also possess supplemental values.

  • Size - The area must be over 5,000 acres of roadless, contiguous BLM-managed lands. Areas smaller than 5,000 acres may qualify if it is practical to preserve and use them without damaging their current condition. In addition, roadless areas less than 5,000 acres that are contiguous with lands that have been formally determined to have wilderness or potential wilderness values, or any federal lands already managed for the protection of wilderness characteristics (e.g. Wilderness Areas or Wilderness Study Areas) may also qualify.
  • Naturalness - Must appear to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature and any work of human beings in the area must be substantially unnoticeable. Minor human impacts such as a water trough or fences may often be considered substantially unnoticeable.
  • Outstanding Opportunities for Solitude or Primitive, Unconfined Recreation - The area must offer a visitor the chance to avoid evidence of other people or provide for outstanding opportunities for primitive and an unconfined type of recreation activity like hiking, fishing, etc. Solitude or outstanding primitive recreation opportunities do not have to be available in all portions of the area. An area may possess outstanding opportunities through either the diversity of possible recreation opportunities in the area or the outstanding quality of one opportunity.
  • Supplemental Values - If size, naturalness and outstanding opportunities criteria are met, then ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical values may be noted, but are not required to qualify as lands with wilderness characteristics.
After an area is inventoried and found to possess wilderness characteristics, the BLM must then make a decision as to whether the area will be managed for those characteristics or for other priority multiple uses. This analysis and management decision is made through a public land use planning process.  

As this webpage only shows the inventory findings, visitors are encouraged to consult with local field offices to learn about the management decisions for inventoried areas that have been found to possess wilderness characteristics.

Click on the map below to link to the individual BLM Field Office Area Wilderness Characteristics Inventory Websites.

Click here to download the GIS Shapefile with Metadata.