Wilderness Inventory and Evaluation

Riding horseback in the Bob Marshall Wilderness


The 2012 Planning Rule requires Forest Service planning teams to identify and evaluate lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System and to determine whether to recommend any such lands for wilderness designation. There are four primary steps in the process:  

  Wilderness Inventory & Evaluation Four Step Process graphic 

During the first step, the inventory, 25 individual areas were identified with potential to meet criteria for wilderness recommendation. Please refer to the wilderness identification and inventory process paper (revised 8/19/2014; see table 2) for a list of the areas and how we identified them. Click here for the vicinity map that contains all of the areas in the context of the Flathead National Forest and surrounding area.

In addition, a KML file of the inventoried areas is available for use in Google Earth: wilderness inventory KML (updated August 19, 2014). The results of the inventory can also be viewed on an interactive mapping website [map turned off].  

In the second step, the wilderness characteristics of each area identified in step 1 were evaluated. The planning team is currently engaged in the third step, the analysis of these areas in the environmental impact statement for the forest plan revision.

In the final step, the forest supervisor will review the analysis disclosed in the environmental impact statement as well as all tribal, governmental, and public input and decide which areas, if any, to recommend for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The identification and evaluation of areas for wilderness recommendation will eventually be included as an appendix in the draft and final environmental impact statements for plan revision. The decision document of the revised forest plan will describe any recommendations for wilderness. If areas are recommended for wilderness, the responsible official will include plan direction to protect the wilderness characteristics of the recommended area(s) prior to congressional action regarding the recommendation taking place.

Current Step: Analysis

Based on the evaluation and input from public participation opportunities, the responsible official shall identify which specific areas, or portions thereof, from the evaluation to carry forward as recommended wilderness in one or more alternatives in the plan EIS (36 CFR 219, FSM 1920, and FSH 1909.15).

Not all lands included in the inventory and subsequent evaluations are required to be carried forward in an alternative.

For each evaluated area or portions thereof that are not included in an alternative in the applicable NEPA analysis, the responsible official shall document the reason for excluding it from further analysis.

How You Can Participate

Your input is important to us! The 120-day comment period for the draft environmental impact statement and draft revised forest plan commenced on June 3rd. Please visit www.fs.usda.gov/goto/flathead/fpr for more information about how to comment (updated 8/31/2016).

The comment period using the interactive mapping tool of the wilderness inventory and the wilderness evaluation worksheets has closed. The comment period ended September 9, 2014.

Input was provided on:

  1. the measures proposed for the wilderness evaluation (the criteria must remain constant, but there is latitude on the measures used to evaluate the criteria); and/or
  2. the areas included in the inventory, either through the e-collaboration map tool or on worksheets: 
  • Access the [map tool turned off] to view comments that were made.

Link to the worksheets  by area:

Link to the vicinity map of the wilderness inventory areas.

Vicinity map of the wilderness inventory areas:

 vicinity map

If you have questions or need more information e-mail [address no longer active].