Tongass wilderness Q&A

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2003

Q: What is wilderness?

A: In general, people have different opinions about what wilderness is.

The federal Wilderness Act of 1964 defines wilderness as "an area where the Earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

Wilderness has outstanding opportunities for solitude and low-impact recreation and may contain "ecological, geological, or other features of scientific educational, scenic or historical value," according to the act.

Q: How much Tongass wilderness is there?

A: Nineteen areas of the Tongass National Forest are designated wilderness, making up 5.8 million acres of the 16.9 million acre forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Tongass has about 6.6 million acres that are congressionally designated wilderness, national monuments or so-called LUD II land. LUD II is similar to designated wilderness, but some limited development is permitted for water and power, mining, habitat and transportation.

The Tongass has 109 inventoried roadless areas that cover 9.6 million acres. Actual timber harvest can occur on 700,000 acres of the Tongass, according to the Forest Service.

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