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Wilderness Act

16 U.S.C. §§1131-1136

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Congress declares it to be U.S. policy to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness. [16 U.S.C. §1131(a)]

Wilderness areas are to be administered so as to leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness and for the gathering of information regarding their use as wilderness. [16 U.S.C. §1131(a)]

The statute establishes the National Wilderness Preservation System, the lands of which are to be designated by act of Congress. [16 U.S.C. §1131(a)]

A designated wilderness area shall continue to be administered by the agency that had jurisdiction immediately before its inclusion in the wilderness system, unless otherwise provided by act of Congress. [16 U.S.C. §1131(b)]

The statute directs the Secretary of Agriculture to review, for possible inclusion in the wilderness system, each area in the national forests classified on September 3, 1964, as primitive. [16 U.S.C. §1132(b)] The statute directs the Secretary of the Interior to review, for possible inclusion in the wilderness system, every roadless area of 5,000 acres or more in the national parks, monuments, and other units of the National Park System, and every such area of the national wildlife refuges and game ranges, under the Secretary’s jurisdiction on September 3, 1964. [16 U.S.C. §1132(c)]

An agency with jurisdiction over a wilderness area shall administer the area so as to preserve its wilderness character. [16 U.S.C. §1133(b)]

Except as specifically provided and subject to existing rights, there shall be no commercial enterprises or permanent roads in wilderness areas. [16 U.S.C. §1133(c)]

The statute establishes the extent to which temporary roads, motorized vehicles, ongoing mineral surveys, water projects, and livestock grazing may be permitted. [16 U.S.C. §1133(c)-(d)]

In general, after December 31, 1983, national forest lands designated as wilderness areas are to be withdrawn from entry under U.S. mining laws. [16 U.S.C. §1133(d)(3)]

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The statute is available from the U.S. Government Publishing Office: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2017-title16/html/USCODE-2017-title16-chap23.htm