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. 
 
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. 

Draft Inventory Map (September 2017)

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.

Expanded Evaluation Criteria (September 2017) 

Step 3: Analysis
The forest supervisor will determine which areas from the evaluation to further analyze through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

Step 4: Recommendation
The Forest Supervisor will decide which areas, if any, to recommend to Congress for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. 
P
rovide Your Feedback!
As we move through the Wilderness Recommendation Process, there are many ways to get involved. Currently there are two ways you can provide your input:
 

Tonto National Forest officials have developed a draft inventory map using the final inventory criteria. Please provide your comments on areas that should be removed from the inventory or areas that should be added back into the inventory based on substantially noticeable improvements, as defined by the final inventory criteria.

View our informational video about the draft inventory map. Click here for the video script.

2. Comment on the Expanded Evaluation Criteria

Tonto National Forest officials have expanded the evaluation criteria for the wilderness recommendation process to outline how all of the areas will be ranked for their wilderness characteristics. Please provide your feedback on how the Tonto National Forest plans to evaluate all lands included in the inventory. 

View our informational video about the expanded evaluation criteria. Click here for the video script.

Comments are most useful if received by October 2, 2017

Comments can be submitted using the Wilderness Story Map 
or by email to tontoplan@fs.fed.us 
or by mail to: Tonto National Forest
c/o Forest Plan Revision
2324 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85006