chapter  9
26 Pages

Wilderness Policy

ByCraig W. Allin

This chapter examines the evolution of wilderness policy on western public lands since the 1960s. The American experience with statutory wilderness preservation began with the 1964 Wilderness Act, reached its climax with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, and continues today. America's wilderness policy, once dominated by the land management agencies of the executive branch, depends on an increasingly complex interplay of administrative agencies, interest groups, political parties, congressional committees, state and local governments, courts of law, and even presidential politics. Wilderness allocation in the national forests might have elicited equally small attention if the lands in question had remained limited to primitive areas already withdrawn from most forms of development. The Wilderness Act made no provision for wilderness areas on the public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Congressional micromanagement has taken a multitude of forms.