General Regulations for Wilderness

On this page, you’ll find a summary of general regulations for visiting a BLM wilderness area, which is an area of public lands that Congress has designated for BLM to manage as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System in accordance with the Wilderness Act of 1964  [43 CFR § 6301.3]. Under the Act, a wilderness is a Federal land where man and his own works do NOT dominate the landscape and the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man.  Wilderness has the following characteristics–

  1.  It has retained its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation;
  2. It appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable;
  3. It has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;
  4. It has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and
  5. It may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.

Wilderness is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions [16 USC § 1131].


Summary

  • General Regulations for Wilderness for wheelchairs.ADA: wheelchairs are allowed if required for a disability; however, BLM is not required to build facilities or modify conditions [43 CFR § 6301.17]
  • Aircraft:
  1. Landing: possible only if planes were being land when Congress designated the area as wilderness [43 § CFR 21]
  2. Landing strips: visitors may NOT build landing strips, heliports, or hellispots [43 § CFR 20(c)]
  3. Materials & supplies: may not be dropped or picked up, including hang-gliders, hot air balloons, parasails, and parachutes [43 § CFR 20(e)]
  • Authorization and fees:
  1. NOT required to use wilderness areas unless required by
    1. Regulation to collection natural resources
    2. Regulation to gather scientific information
    3. Regulation to access inholdings or valid occupancies
    4. Regulations governing specific activities
    5. The management plan
    6. A BLM closure or restriction [43 § CFR 12]
  2. May be requires from the applicable BLM field office [43 § CFR 13]
  • General Regulations for Wilderness for boats, canoes, and kayaks.Boats: may possible be used, but only if they were being used when Congress designated the area as wilderness [43 CFR § 6301.21]
  • Business: visitors may NOT operate a commercial enterprise [43 CFR § 6301.20(a)]
  • Campfires: when allowed, visitors may gather a reasonable amount of firewood [43 CFR § 15(b)]
  • Camping: visitors may build, install, or erect tents, tarpaulins, temporary corrals, or similar devices [43 CFR § 6301.20(f)]
  • Climbing:
  1. Permits: NOT required
  2. Power drills: NOT allowed [43 § CFR 14]
  • Closures: BLM may close an area when necessary for compliance with the Wilderness Act and other Federal law [43 CFR § 6301.19]
  • Competitive events: visitors may NOT engage or participate competitive events (e.g. physical endurance, foot races, watercraft races, survival exercises, war games) [43 CFR § 6301.20(i)]
  • Equipment: motorized equipment is NOT allowed [43 CFR § 6301.20(d)]
  • Plants: plants may be removed or disturbed but ONLY
  1. Authorization: with BLM authorization when required by statute or regulation
  2. Damage: with minimal surface disturbance
  3. Management plan: in conformance with the management plan
  4. Purpose: if it is for non-commercial purposes
  5. Tools: with non-motorized hand tools [43 CFR § 15(a)]
  • Restrictions: BLM may restrict an area when necessary for compliance with the Wilderness Act and other Federal law [43 CFR § 6301.19]
  • Roads: visitors may NOT build temporary of permanent roads [43 CFR § 6301.20(b)]
  • Rocks: plants may be removed or disturbed but ONLY
  1. Authorization: with BLM authorization when required by statute or regulation
  2. Damage: with minimal surface disturbance
  3. Management plan: in conformance with the management plan
  4. Purpose: if it is for non-commercial purposes
  5. Tools: with non-motorized hand tools [43 CFR § 15(a)]
  • Structures: visitors may NOT build, install, or erect structures or installations (e.g. transmission lines, sheds, hunting or fishing lodges) except for overnight camping (see above) [43 CFR § 6301.20(f)]
  • Trees: visitors may NOT cut trees [43 CFR § 6301.20(g)]
  • General Regulations for Wilderness for motor vehicles, ATV's and OHV's.Vehicles: motorized vehicles or other forms of mechanical transport are NOT allowed [43 CFR § 6301.20(d)]
  • Violations: visitors are subject to
  1. Civil action: an injunction or other action to prevent future use
  2. Criminal prosecution: a $100,000 fine and/or one year in prison [43 CFR § 30]

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