Inventory and Evaluation of Wilderness Characteristics

Inventory and Evaluation of Wilderness Characteristics

Each national forest undertaking Forest Plan Revision under the 2012 Planning Rule must complete a process of identifying and evaluating lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and determine whether to recommend any of the evaluated lands to Congress for wilderness designation. Congress reserves the authority to designate wilderness through legislation.

Steps of the Wilderness Process

Forest Service Handbook 1909.12 Chapter 70 provides direction and guidance for the four-step process to be completed as one part of the larger Plan Revision effort.

Please see the Lincoln National Forest Wilderness Process Presentation for more information. 

Step 1: Inventory (Summer 2019)

The purpose of the inventory steps is to identify all National Forest lands in the plan area that may have wilderness characteristics using a given set of criteria.

Public involvement and meetings were held in October of 2018 to gather input on the “substantially noticeable criteria” and to provide information on the process and its steps.

We are currently seeking public feedback on the Draft Inventory Criteria and also the Draft Evaluation Criteria. Please submit your comments by July 31, 2019.

Comments can be submitted by email to or by mail to:

Lincoln National Forest
Attn.: Plan Revision
3463 Las Palomas Rd
Alamogordo, NM 88310

The initial inventory maps of land suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System will be developed and released for public feedback after the Forest receives public input on the inventory criteria.  Following public feedback on the initial inventory maps, the final inventory maps will be developed and released.

Final Inventory Process (Fall 2019)

Final Inventory Maps will include all National Forest System areas that are identified to move on to the next step of the process, which is the evaluation of the inventoried lands.  This is only a preliminary step in a larger process and does not mean that all areas on the Final Inventory map will be proposed or managed as Wilderness.

Step 2: Evaluation

For the second step of the process, a draft evaluation report will be developed and made available for public review and comment.  The evaluation step will examine the level of wilderness characteristics possessed by the lands identified in the previous Inventory step. The Lincoln National Forest will develop a draft evaluation report after listening to stakeholder ideas and input in review periods that will provide opportunities for the public to submit written comments.

Keep in mind that this is only an early step in a larger process and inclusion of an area in the evaluation step does not mean the area will be proposed or managed as wilderness. The Lincoln National Forest welcomes comments on the wilderness characteristic rankings and rationales given to each area. 

Step 3: Analysis (Winter 2019)

This involves analysis of the evaluated areas that are determined to be potentially suitable for inclusion in one or more alternatives as part of the Forest Plan Revision National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. There will be consideration of all factors (impacts to local existing or future forest products uses, effects to restoration needs and defensible space from wildfire/wildland-urban interface, etc.) that have relevance for consideration of whether an area should be recommended, or not, and not just limited to ranking of wilderness characteristics. We will request this site-specific information to help us with the analysis phase of the process.  We will be considering previously submitted comments that are applicable to the analysis step.

Step 4: Recommendation

The Forest Supervisor (Responsible Official) will decide which areas, if any, to recommend to Congress for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.  Only Congress may designate wilderness.