Wilderness Recommendation Process

Comment Now on the Draft Evaluation Map!
Comments are most useful by February 12th, 2018

In October 2017 the ID Team used the Evaluation Criteria to systematically evaluate all lands identified in the inventory and ranked the areas either HIGH, MODERATE, LOW, or NO for the level of wilderness characteristics they contain. draft evaluation map that shows ranked parcels of Tonto National Forest lands based on their level of wilderness characteristics is available for public review and comments. The public can submit comments in one of two ways:
The Forest Service welcomes additional public comments on the wilderness characteristic rankings given to each area identified. The evaluation criteria should be used to provide feedback on the draft evaluation map and ranking determinations. Notes on these determinations can be found in the draft evaluation determination rationale

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 Evaluation Step.
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. 

Evaluation Criteria (January 2018)
**excel document available by request to tontoplan@fs.fed.us**

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

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. 

rovide Your Feedback!

Comment now on the Draft Evaluation Map! 

During the comment period (January 19, 2018 - February 12, 2018) you may submit a comment the following ways: 

You may submit a comment using an online reporting tool called Talking Points. This is the preferred method for submitting comments. This approach will take you to a map where you can submit your comments based on a map location.


You may submit your comments through an online commenting form. This form also allows you to share general comments and feedback about the Wilderness Recommendation Process. To submit a comment using the online comment form click here.

As we move through the Wilderness Recommendation Process, there are many ways to get involved. Email tontonplan@fs.fed.us to receive updates on opportunities to provide your input!