Report on Values and Benefits

Report on the Values and Benefits of Wilderness in the United States

I. Changes in Society and the Environment

Goal: Describe how the evolution of demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the U.S. population since 1964, in combination with observed and anticipated environmental changes, are creating novel challenges for wilderness policy and management. 


● Analyses of demographic and environmental trends.  

● Environmental indicators related to climate change, landscape fragmentation, exotic species, and deposition of airborne contaminants.  

II. Supply of Wilderness and Other Wild Lands 

Goal: Trace the expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) since 1964 and consider how other federal lands might augment the NWPS.


● Maps delineating Wilderness Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, National Monuments and other wild lands by year and Agency.  

● Analyses of the degree to which the Nation’s ecosystems are represented in the NWPS.    

● Analyses of trends in spatial characteristics such as size of Wilderness areas and proximity to urban areas. 

III. Societal Relevance of Wild Lands

Goal: Describe the evolution of values towards the environment and wild lands over the past several decades and examine how this dynamic reflects changes in society.   


● Analyses of data compiled from the National Surveys of Recreation and the Environment (USDA Forest Service).

● Summaries of the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-associated Recreation (US Fish & Wildlife Service) and surveys of environmental attitudes conducted by the Pew Research Organization.

● Trends in missions and world views of environmental organizations.

IV. Wilderness Impacts on Gateway Communities

Goal: Describe the impacts of Wilderness areas on the economies of gateway communities.


● Summaries of the economic impacts of wilderness trips on jobs and income generation in gateway communities.  

● Summaries of the impacts of wilderness designations on trends in amenity migration.  

V. Wilderness Recreation 

Goal: Describe the short-term and long-term trends in the use and value of wilderness recreation and link these trends with demographic and other changes in society.


● Analyses of short-term trends in wilderness recreation using data collected by the National Visitor Use Monitoring Program (USDA Forest Service). 

● Analyses of long-term trends in wilderness recreation using data collected from wilderness permits and trail registers (including multiple agencies).  

VI. Wilderness Water 

Goal: Describe the importance of wilderness to water supply at the national/regional levels and develop case studies to demonstrate how wilderness contributes to the economic value of water.


● Analyses of the contribution of wilderness areas to national water supplies.

● Case studies of the economic value of wilderness water supplies.   

VII. Wilderness Carbon

Goal: Describe the amount of carbon being sequestered in wilderness areas and compute the economic value of carbon storage.


● Analyses of carbon sequestration in wilderness areas.

● Description of the economic value of carbon in wilderness.

VIII. Biological Diversity

Goals: Determine if wilderness areas maintain a higher percentage of “high value” species relative to the larger land management unit within which they are contained.  


● Analyses of national data that can be used to characterize the role of wilderness areas in providing habitat/refuge for “high value” plant and animal species.

IX. Native American Perspectives

Goal: Describe Native American perspectives (past, present, and future) on wild lands.  


● Summary analyses of land management trends on tribal lands that are complementary with the values and benefits of federal Wilderness areas.  

● A case study describing tribal natural resource management decisions that enhance the values and benefits associated with wilderness water resources.  

X. Wilderness Values and Relevance for Future Generations

Goal:  Summarize the implications of the information presented in this report for wilderness managers, planners, agencies, and other stakeholders regarding the anticipated future uses and values associated with wilderness lands.  Highlight research and other information needs required to improve science-based decision-making.