Wilderness Recommendation Process

As part of forest plan revision under the 2012 planning rule, forests are required to identify lands that may or may not be suitable to recommend to Congress for new Wilderness designation as part of the revision of their land and resource management plan (Forest Plan). The planning process may or may not result in recommendations for additional Wilderness on the Tonto. Recommended wilderness is distinct from designated wilderness, and is managed in accordance with Forest Plan direction as opposed to the Wilderness Act of 1964. The important thing to remember is that congress has reserved the authority to make final decisions on wilderness designation. A timeline for the wilderness recommendation process can be found hereFurther information on the Wilderness Recommendation Process can be found in Chapter 70 of the Land Management Planning Handbook. 

Click Here for Frequently Asked Questions on the Wilderness Recommendation Process!


Steps of the Wilderness Process
The process occurs in four primary steps: Inventory, Evaluation, Analysis, and Recommendation. Currently, the Tonto National Forest is in the Analysis Step. More information on these steps can be found on the Wilderness Recommendation Process Story Map!
Step 1: Inventory
The purpose of the inventory steps is to identify and create an inventory of all lands that may or may not be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System using a given set of criteria. 

Final Inventory Map (October 2017)

View our informational video about the inventory map. Click here for the video script.
 
 
Step 2: Evaluation
Evaluate the wilderness characteristics of all lands included in the inventory that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System using a given set of criteria and assign a ranking of high, moderate, low, or no for their wilderness character. 

**excel document available by request to tontoplan@fs.fed.us**

View our informational video about the evaluation step. Click here for the video script.
Step 3: Analysis
Based on the evaluation and input from the public, some areas, or portions thereof, may be proposed as part of the Draft Forest Plan, or an alternative and analyzed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis as part of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 






Step 4: Recommendation
The Forest Supervisor will decide which areas, if any, to recommend to Congress for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.