Date of this Version
Journal of Environmental Management 131 (2013), pp. 239-255.
A GIS-based approach is developed to identify the state of wilderness character in US wilderness areas using Death Valley National Park (DEVA) as a case study. A set of indicators and measures are identified by DEVA staff and used as the basis for developing a flexible and broadly applicable framework to map wilderness character using data inputs selected by park staff. Spatial data and GIS methods are used to map the condition of four qualities of wilderness character: natural, untrammelled, undeveloped, and solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. These four qualities are derived from the US 1964 Wilderness Act and later developed by Landres et al. (2008a) in “Keeping it Wild: An Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System.” Data inputs are weighted to reflect their importance in relation to other data inputs and the model is used to generate maps of each of the four qualities of wilderness character. The combined map delineates the range of quality of wilderness character in the DEVA wilderness revealing the majority of wilderness character to be optimal quality with the best areas in the northern section of the park. This map will serve as a baseline for monitoring change in wilderness character and for evaluating the spatial impacts of planning alternatives for wilderness and backcountry stewardship plans. The approach developed could be applied to any wilderness area, either in the USA or elsewhere in the world.