Central Cascades Wilderness Strategies

A link that takes you to a PowerPoint presentation about Central Cascades Wilderness Strategies
Click the image above to learn how we are working together for the greatest good for visitors, communities and our Wilderness landscapes.

The Deschutes and Willamette National Forests are initiating a formal process and inviting public comment to analyze strategies for managing increasing visitor use and the impacts from that use in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, Diamond Peak and Waldo Lake Wildernesses.Three sisters mountains with quote from the Wilderness Act

Our mandate, as outlined in the Wilderness Act of 1964, is to preserve and enhance wilderness character. Wilderness character has the following qualities: natural, undeveloped, untrammeled, opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation, and other features of value (ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value).

These Wilderness areas provide a great diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities. However, they continue to face increasing recreational demands that can degrade natural resources and impact the wilderness experience.

Overall visitor use has increased tremendously in the past six years, with 2015 and 2016 seeing the greatest increase in visitors. In some areas, use has increased over 500% in the last two years. The peak use is concentrated in July, August, and September, usually on a small subset of trails, which exacerbates the social and physical resource impacts. In the Three Sisters Wilderness, for example, the five busiest trailheads accounted for 55% of all of the use in 2016.graphs showing increase in visitation to wilderness areas between 2011 and 2016

Recreational use in wilderness affects vegetation, soil, animals, and water. With large increases in visitation, more people are leaving behind trash, abandoned gear, human waste and toilet paper, and dog waste. Visitors sometimes damage trees for firewood, build structures for shelter, introduce invasive plants, and leave other evidence of their visit. These issues affect the natural quality of wilderness character. High levels of use also affect opportunities for solitude and unconfined recreation.

There is a need to manage visitor use in the five wilderness areas in order to reduce recreation-related resource impacts and to protect and enhance wilderness character.

Strategies for visitor use management will be analyzed for the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, Diamond Peak and Waldo Lake Wildernesses. The public is invited to participate in the planning process. You can learn more about the project and submit your comments here.

Public comments generated from this proposal will be used to revise the strategy and to potentially develop management alternatives to be analyzed and compared in an Environmental Assessment (EA).

The EA will be a comprehensive document that analyzes the impacts and compares the trade-offs of the alternatives. The Forest Service will provide an opportunity to comment on the EA.

Based on comments on the EA, the Forest Service will revise the EA and prepare a draft Decision Notice. The public will then have an administrative review opportunity whereby objections to the draft decision can be filed. The regulations provide a 45-day period for resolving objections before a final decision is made. The Forest Supervisors for the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will make the final decision on a course of action for managing wilderness in the project area.

Wilderness Strategies Proposed Action (PDF 1300kb)

For more information contact:

Beth Peer
63095 Deschutes Market Rd
Bend, OR 97701
541-383-4761 
bpeer@fs.fed.us