Define Wilderness

Jester

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How would you define wilderness? Was talking with some people the other day and this came up. One said the only wilderness left in the USA is Alaska. One defined it as anything over 1000 acres that is not inhabited.
 

Grandpa

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There is not only huge tracts of wilderness left in the United States but still tracts of Primitive areas. Not sure of the difference but there is no trail maintenance in primitive areas. Here in Idaho, the Frank Church wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness are contiguous and are the 2nd and 3rd largest wilderness' in the lower 48. The largest is Death Valley. Montana and Wyoming also hold huge tracts of wilderness. The Wind River range in Wyoming is huge and is comprised of 4 different wilderness', and a huge area in Montana comprised of the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness, adjacent to Glacier NP. All these areas are still truly wilderness.

A few years ago, Outside magazine had a list of their idea of the 30 most remote places in the world. Five of those were in N. America. The area between the Selway river and the Lochsa river in Idaho, and that no-mans region of SW Idaho, SE Oregon and N Nevada were two of the five. Claude Dallas may have survived in the Owyhee's indefinitely if Ems and Pogue hadn't heard that he was sending out gold nuggets to pay for his supplies.
 

ppine

Forester
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The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act is Sept 3. The word wilderness did not show up much in the press or conversation until the 1960s and 70s. It is tossed around a lot now by people have never been to one.

Under the Act, wilderness is a place where "the influence of man is essentially unnoticeable", and "where there are opportunities for solitude." It takes several pages for the definition. Wilderness areas are supposed to be larger than 5,000 acres, but some in the East are smaller. The term is defined by an Act of Congress signed by L Johnson in 1964.

A wilderness area is designated Federal Land administered by the Forest Service, BLM, National Park Service, or the US Fish and Wildlife Service. There were some designated primitive areas like the Gila in New Mexico prior to the Wilderness Act. Most but not necessarily all primitive areas have been designated as wilderness. There are more and more wilderness areas all the time in Nevada. They burn the old buildings and close the old roads. It can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

The best practical definition for a wilderness area is anywhere more than 5 miles from the nearest dirt road. In Wyoming I have been 50 miles from the nearest dirt road, but in Alaska more like 80 or 100 miles.
 

Grandpa

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I guess I homed in on the "no place like Alaska" rather than the definition. Well, Alaska is unique but the lower 48 has lots of places that fits Ppines and Amanda's definitions.
 

ppine

Forester
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Nearly every state has some areas that qualify. The difference is the magnitude.

To me the "true" wilderness areas are around 100,000 acres of larger. The you can go in there and rattle around for a few days. The really large wilderness areas are around a million acres or more like on the ID/MT border, WA and Alaska.
 

dinosaur

troublemaker
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To me a wilderness area is any unsettled and uncultivated area. How large it has to be is uncertain. It depends on the individual and their inability to find their way out of it. This is assuming they want to find their way out.

I don't have anything like that around here but I do have a 23 acre woods on my land that's never been touched other than taking some firewood off it. It has a few trees that have been around since the seventeen hundreds and the altitudes vary by about fifty feet. It even has a swamp. It's a good place to go to hunt, fish and gather or just have solitude. I call it my "Wildernest".
 

Simplify

Active Member
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I would define a wilderness as an area in which you can experience decompression, which is not being able to hear or see the sights and sounds of civilization. This is the experience that many outdoor people seek.

There are many areas where one can start to experience decompression with a relatively short hike.
 

Pathfinder1

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Liberty, N.Y. Lower Catskill Mountains.
Hi...
Alaska might be the "Last Frontier", but not the last wilderness, IMuHO. Even Eastern states have their Wilderness'...!! New York, for example, has more and larger State Parks than many other states have National Parks, excluding AK. The Catskill Mountains (a 'smaller wilderness'), and the Adirondaks, (a 'larger wilderness')...are just two examples...!!
 

Cappy

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For me it's more a state of mind than a physical definition. I can sit in the jungle that is our back yard, and be at peace, and in the serenity of my soul. Birds singing and critters crawling around the banana palms and grape vines, shaded chairs and well ya get it . Wilderness for me is more a state of mind, when fishing or sitting listening to the locust sing on a shady afternoon. Remember the more exclusive your definition the harder it is to find.:Yo:
 

jason

fear no beer
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For me it's more a state of mind than a physical definition. I can sit in the jungle that is our back yard, and be at peace, and in the serenity of my soul. Birds singing and critters crawling around the banana palms and grape vines, shaded chairs and well ya get it . Wilderness for me is more a state of mind, when fishing or sitting listening to the locust sing on a shady afternoon. Remember the more exclusive your definition the harder it is to find.:Yo:
I like that. I come out of the garden typically with a bit more tired muscles and pretty dirty, but 99.9% of the time a much better mood.
 
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