Reference Manual 41: Wilderness Stewardship

1. Background and Purpose

The Wilderness Stewardship Reference Manual 41 (RM41) offers comprehensive guidance to National Park Service employees responsible for managing and preserving wilderness character and the wilderness resource throughout the National Park System. RM41 serves as Level 3 guidance, tiering from Management Policies 2006, Chapter 6 and Director’s Order 41. RM41 includes relevant legislation, regulations, other instructions or requirements issued through policy, as well as examples, illustrations, recommended practices, forms, etc. All materials included in RM41 have been approved by the Associate Director, Visitor and Resource Protection.

RM41 is a dynamic resource, where guidance will be updated as needed and paired with current examples when available. Please check back periodically for additional postings and updates and/or consult with the Wilderness Stewardship Division (e-mail us) regarding interpretation and/or application of this guidance.

2. Wilderness Law

--2.1-- The Wilderness Act (1964)

--2.2-- Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (1980)

--2.3-- Legislative Guidance Applicable to NPS Wilderness Preservation and Management (under revision)

3. Wilderness Definitions

--3.1-- National Park Service Wilderness Definitions

4. Wilderness Training, Education, and Information

--4.1-- (Subject Site)

--4.2-- NPS Wilderness Interpretation and Education Strategy (2023)

5. Wilderness Identification and Designation

--5.1-- Wilderness Land Status Definitions

--5.2-- Wilderness Eligibility Determinations and Wilderness Studies

--5.3-- Procedures for Completing Legal Descriptions and Boundary Maps

--5.4-- Procedure for Converting Potential Wilderness to Designated Wilderness

--5.5-- Board of Geographic Names: Principles, Policies, and Procedures (2003)

6. Wilderness Stewardship

--6.1-- National Wilderness Leadership Council

--6.2-- Keeping It Wild 2: An Updated Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System (2015)

--6.3-- Keeping It Wild in the National Park Service: Integrating Wilderness Character into Park Planning, Management, & Monitoring (2014)

--6.4-- National Park Service Wilderness Stewardship Plan Handbook (2014)

--6.5-- 2020 Vision: Interagency Priorities for America’s National Wilderness Preservation System (2014)

--6.6-- Standards of Excellence in Wilderness Stewardship: Park Self-Assessment

--6.7-- Cultural Resources in Wilderness: Guidance for Considering and Managing Historic Structures and Installations (2022)

--6.8-- Guidelines for Evaluating Ecological Intervention Proposals In NPS Wilderness (2022)

--6.9-- National Park Service Wilderness Character Monitoring Technical Guide (2023)

7. Wilderness Visitor Use Management

--7.1-- Managing Climbing Activities in Wilderness

--7.2-- GPS-Based Recreational Activities Policy Review (2009)

--7.3-- Extent Necessary Determination Process for Commercial Services (2014)

8. Wilderness Science

--8.1-- Scientific Activities and Research in National Park Service Wilderness: Guidelines for Wilderness Managers (2011)

--8.2-- Framework to Evaluate Proposals for Scientific Activities in Wilderness (2010)

Last updated: April 11, 2024