Wilderness Evaluation

The Forest is mandated to conduct a Wilderness Evaluation during the Forest Plan Revision.  To do this the Forest goes through four steps narrowing and eliminating areas that do not meet the criteria for the National Wilderness Preservation System.  Region 4 of the Forest Service is using a consistent evaluation process for all Forests with these four steps of the process.  The four steps are: inventory, evaluation, analysis and recommendation.  We are at step two in this process.

During 2016 the Ashely National Forest involved the public with the inventory step by asking people to identify on Forest maps unique features that did not appear in the USFS’s GIS version of the Forest map.  Public comments and new information was collected for this step using a collaborative mapping tool.  This tool allows all commenters to see others comments along with their own.  The results were maps of polygons (areas) that meet the first step criteria and will move forward to the next step – the evaluation step. 

For the evaluation step the Forest hosted field trips to sites in or near the inventory polygons (areas).  The groups took the “Wilderness Evaluation Worksheet” to the field and discussed the information collected at this step.  This step summarizes many layers of GIS data to further quantify Wilderness characteristics for the polygons.  There will be upcoming public meetings to discuss the results of this step in the winter of 2018.

The Ashley National Forest will continue share the information of each of these steps with the public so they can learn and be involved with the entire process. 

Flow chart showing the process for the wilderness evaluation

Evaluation Step

The Ashley National Forest hosted Wilderness Evaluation field trips to the Forest in Utah on September 28, 29, 30, 2017.  These field trips are part of our ongoing Wilderness Evaluation process and meant to encourage your involvement.  The process will eventually decide if any of the Forest qualifies as additional wilderness.

     The trip on September 28th went to the Weyman Park Trailhead in Manilla, the 29th trip went to the Rock Creek Group Camp site in Duchesne, and the Vernal meeting on the 30th was held indoors because of weather.

     After learning more about the process, participants commented that the evaluation is much more objective than they thought, rather than more subjective like they originally believed.  Also, participants enjoyed the chance to have one-on-one discussions with both each other and Forest Service people.  Overall, the participants got the opportunity to have their opinions heard, learn other peoples’ thoughts, and appreciated learning more about the process.

A group of participants on a field trip to Rock Creek

A group of participants on a field trip to Weyman