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"The [roadless] inventory clearly is to accumulate targets for closure." - D. Hook, Pennsylvania recreationists.

Roadless Area: Literally an area without any improved roads maintained for travel by standard passenger type vehicles (FSH 1909.12, Section 7.11).


Care for a little United Nations connection? Here 'tis:



Want another connection?

Compilation of Forestry Terms and Definitions ... (12, 47, 31) 2) Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO definition (1990, for Developed countries): Land with tree crown cover (stand density ... 48-pages. (EFI stands for European Forest Institute)


The concept of wilderness in the National Forest System was first implemented in 1924 with administrative designation of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. By 1964, 14.6 million acres of National Forest land had been administratively classified as wilderness, wild or primitive.

Several times in the past, the Forest Service has inventoried areas potentially suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. The original inventory criteria required that the areas meet the original definition of wilderness found in section 2(c) of the 1964 Wilderness Act (78 Stat. 890; 16 U.S.C. 1131-1136):

A Wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized 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. An area of Wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements of human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which:

(1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable;

(2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation;

(3) has at least 5,000 acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and

(4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, or historical value.

A key consideration in identifying areas potentially suitable for wilderness was the absence of roads. As a result, the phrase "roadless" is commonly used to refer to these potential wildernesses. Although roadless areas must possess the above characteristics, additional characteristics and past and present uses of each roadless area as well as the areas surrounding them, cause roadless areas to have varying degrees of wilderness characteristics.

Forest Service Policy and the regulations implementing the National Forest Management Act require roadless areas to be considered for wilderness during the forest planning process:

36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 219.17 (a): "...Roadless areas within the National Forest System shall be evaluated and considered for recommendation as potential Wilderness during the forest planning process". Also, "...roadless areas including those previously inventoried in the second roadless area review and evaluation (RARE II)...which remain essentially roadless and undeveloped, and which have not yet been designated as Wilderness or for non-wilderness uses by law" shall be subject to evaluation.

Forest Service Handbook 1909.12, Section 7.1: "...Identify and inventory all roadless, undeveloped areas that satisfy the definition of Wilderness found in section 2 (c) of the 1964 Wilderness Act."

The "Utah Wilderness Act of 1984" (Public Law 98-428) contains the following language which eliminated the need to evaluate wilderness during the 1984 Forest Plan but requiring reevaluation during revision:

(2) with respect to the national forest system lands in the State of Utah which were reviewed by the Department of Agriculture in the second roadless area review and evaluation (RARE II) and those lands referred to in subsection (d), that review and evaluation or reference shall be deemed for the purposes of the initial land management plans" ... "to be adequate for consideration of the suitability of such lands for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System and the Department of Agriculture shall not be required to review the wilderness option prior to the revisions of the plans, but shall review the wilderness option when the plans are revised, which revisions will ordinarily occur on a ten-year cycle, or at least every fifteen years, unless, prior to such time the Secretary finds that conditions in a unit have significantly changed.

The Utah Wilderness Act further states that non-wilderness areas should not necessarily be managed to preserve their wilderness character prior to or during revision:

(4) in the event that revised land management plans in the State of Utah are implemented... areas not recommended for wilderness designation need not be managed for the purpose of protecting their suitability for wilderness designation prior or during revision of such plans, and areas recommended for wilderness designation shall be managed for the purpose of protecting their suitability for wilderness designation...

Approximately 60,000 acres of the Uinta National Forest is currently designated Wilderness. This includes the Lone Peak, Timpanogos, and Mount Nebo Wilderness Areas. Lone Peak Wilderness Area on the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache National Forests was established through the Endangered American Wilderness Act of 1978. Mount Timpanogos and Mount Nebo Wilderness Areas were established through the 1984 Utah Wilderness Bill.

As noted above, law, regulation and policy requires the Forest Service to inventory and evaluate the remainder of the Forest for wilderness potential during the Forest Plan revision process. The purpose of this inventory is to identify lands on the Uinta National Forest that are currently in a "roadless and undeveloped" condition.


Contiguous - Used in a geographic sense, the term applies to situations where areas of land physically touch and share substantial common boundaries or have a common border of considerable length. The term is not intended to include "point-to-point" touching or "cornering", or instances where only small portions of land areas touch. It is not intended to encompass or encourage creative mapping exercises that result in irregular shapes, such as narrow corridors and "gerrymandered" roadless areas.

Essentially unroaded -A combination National Forest System Wilderness and inventoried roadless areas.

Exception - A specific circumstance where prohibited activity would be allowed within an inventoried roadless area that is otherwise subject to the prohibitions in the alternatives.

Inventoried roadless area  Undeveloped areas typically exceeding 5,000 acres that met the minimum criteria for wilderness consideration under the Wilderness Act and that were inventoried during the Forest Services Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) process, subsequent assessments, or forest planning. These areas are identified in a set of inventoried roadless area maps, contained in Forest Service Roadless Area Conservation, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2, dated November 2000, which are held at the National headquarters office of the Forest Service.

Manageable size - Geographic areas that the local official determines are of a shape and position within the landscape for reasonable achievement of the long-term conservation of roadless characteristics. For example, many long narrow strips or "stringers" between two highly developed areas would usually not be considered manageable.

Map unit The individual parcels defined in the geographic information system (GIS) database. For reporting purposes, forests often group several map units into a single named inventoried roadless area.

RARE II roadless area (Roadless Area Review and Evaluation) - Roadless areas on National Forest System lands that were inventoried by the Forest Service in 1979.

Refugia - Areas that have not been exposed to great environmental changes and disturbances undergone by the region as a whole. In this FEIS, refugia include inventoried roadless areas that are relatively free from human-caused disruptions and disturbances when compared to roaded areas; refugia provide conditions suitable for survival of species that may be declining elsewhere.

Responsible official - The Forest Service line officer with the authority and responsibility to make decisions regarding the protection and management of inventoried roadless areas and other unroaded areas pursuant to [Subpart B-Protection of Roadless Areas].

Road -A motor vehicle travelway over 50 inches wide, except those designated and managed as a trail. A road may be classified, unclassified, or temporary.

Road analysis - An integrated ecological, social, and economic science-based approach to transportation planning that addresses existing and future road management options.

Road-based recreation - Activities that are normally associated with classified roads and are consistent with the settings and experiences identified with Semi-Primitive Motorized (SPM), Roaded Natural (RN), Rural (R), and Urban (U) classes of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum. Examples of these activities include car camping and picnicking, gathering berries and firewood, driving for pleasure, wildlife viewing, and OHV use.

Road construction - Activities that result in the addition of road miles to the forest transportation system.

Road maintenance - The ongoing upkeep of a road necessary to retain or restore the road to the approved road management objective.

Road obliteration - A form of road decommissioning that re-contours and restores natural slopes.

Road reconstruction - Activities that result in road realignment or road improvement, as defined below:

  • Road improvement - Activities that result in an increase of an existing road's traffic service level, expand its capacity, or change its original design function.
  • Road realignment  Activities that result in a new location for an existing road or portions of an existing road, including treatment of the old roadway.
Roaded Natural (RN) - A definition used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) to characterize an area that has predominantly natural-appearing environments with moderate evidences of the sights and sounds of humans. Such evidences are usually in harmony with the natural environment. Interaction between users may be low to moderate, but evidence of other users is prevalent. Resource modification and practices are evident but harmonize with the natural environment. Conventional motorized use is provided for in construction standards and facilities design.

Roadless areas - For the purposes of this EIS, a generic term that includes inventoried roadless area and unroaded areas.

Roadless characteristics  Roadless area characteristics include the following:

  • Soil, water, and air
  • Sources of public drinking water
  • Diversity of plant and animal communities
  • Habitat for threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate, and sensitive species, and for those species dependent on large, undisturbed areas of land
  • Primitive, Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized, and Semi-Primitive Motorized classes of recreation opportunities
  • Reference landscapes
  • Landscape character and scenic integrity
  • Traditional cultural properties and sacred sites
  • Other locally identified unique characteristics
Rural (R) - A definition used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) to characterize an area with a substantially modified natural environment. Sights and sounds of humans are readily evident, and the interaction between users is moderate to high. A considerable number of facilities are designed for use by large numbers of people. Facilities for intensified motorized use and parking are available.

Semi-Primitive Motorized (SPM) - A definition used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) to characterize an area that has a predominantly natural or natural-appearing environment of moderate to large size. Concentration of users is low, but there is often evidence of other users. The area is managed in such a way that minimum on-site controls and restrictions may be present, but are subtle. Motorized use is permitted.

Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized (SPNM) - A definition used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) to characterize an area that has a predominantly natural or natural-appearing environment of moderate to large size. Interaction between users is low, but there is often evidence of other users. The area is managed in such a way that minimum on-site controls and restrictions may be present, but they are subtle. Motorized use is not permitted.

Unroaded area - Any area, without the presence of a classified road, of a size and configuration sufficient to protect the inherent characteristics associated with its roadless condition. Unroaded areas do not overlap with inventoried roadless areas.

Urban (U) - A definition used in the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) to characterize a substantially urbanized environment, although the background may have natural appearing elements. Affiliation with individuals and groups is prevalent, as is the convenience of sites and opportunities. Large numbers of users can be expected, both on-site and in nearby areas. Facilities for highly intensified motor vehicle use and parking are available. Regimentation and controls are obvious and numerous.

The below is a 33-page pdf file; Chapter 9 of a much larger document. Please see the comment on page 9-2, among many others.

Vertical Mulching - A high priority recovery need for the federally-listed desert tortoise and other sensitive species occurring within the California Desert is the restoration of unauthorized routes, or road reclamation (refer to West Mojave Route Designation, Ord Mountain Pilot Unit, Biological Resource Screening Components; Bureau of Land Management 1997). Such restoration allows for the protection of large contiguous blocks of habitat that are relatively unencumbered by vehicle use impacts and related activities. Restoring unauthorized routes would significantly reduce identified habitat fragmentation occurring within designated tortoise critical habitat units and yield tremendous positive benefits affecting recovery of this species. Of the 22 major threats to the tortoise identified in recent research, ten would be significantly reduced by restoring unauthorized roads and trails, including the following: fire, off highway vehicle recreation, animal collection, garbage and litter, handling and manipulation, invasive weeds, noise, vandalism, predation (by ravens and similar subsidized predators), and non off-highway vehicle recreation. The Barstow Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management is currently seeking support among potential cooperators to use “desert tortoise habitat compensation” funds for road and trail restoration. Such funds are occasionally generated, pursuant to guidelines in BLM’s Desert Tortoise Rangewide Plan, when habitat-impacting projects are approved within the range of the tortoise that cannot be fully mitigated on-site. In the past, these “habitat compensation” funds have typically been used to acquire private inholdings within designated tortoise critical habitat units. Recently, however, the Barstow Field Office determined that compensation funds generated by several large-scale projects would enable cooperating agencies to protect/enhance a much larger amount of tortoise habitat if these funds were used for route restoration, rather than habitat acquisition. Both methods of offsite habitat compensation are necessary for long-term recovery of the desert tortoise and other sensitive species in certain critical habitat units, and these options should be carefully evaluated on a case-by-case basis. To accomplish both tortoise habitat restoration and route designation objectives in critical habitat units, BLM staff have developed a reclamation strategy commonly referred to as “vertical mulching.” This technique involves the placement of structure (live vegetation, rocks, dead shrubs and “snags,” bunch-grasses, and various woody material) within the confines of the closed roadway surface, both on the ground surface and in a vertical manner, designed to conform with adjacent vegetation and terrain. Use of this technique is further described below. Discussion: Lessons learned by BLM over past decades have shown that route designation cannot be effectively implemented by simply installing red carsonite “closed to vehicle use” signs on or adjacent to unauthorized routes of travel. Efforts must include encouraging vehicle travel on designated open routes, and making designated closed routes literally disappear into the landscape. To begin this “disappearing act,” decompaction and mulching techniques must be applied to closed routes, extending at least to the visual horizon, especially where the closed routes intersect with other routes. The Barstow Field Office has demonstrated that unauthorized roads and trails can be economically restored through use of vertical mulching techniques. These techniques involve placement of boulders and organic structure, such as live/dead and down vegetation, within the disturbed soil portion of affected roadbeds. Only vegetation, rock and woody structure native to the immediate closed route vicinities are used. The estimated cost for restoring tortoise habitat using this technique is $500 per acre, using current technology. The target restoration areas consist of roads and trails that facilitate a variety of anthropogenic impacts to designated desert tortoise critical habitat. The specified collection and installation of mulching material occurs under the supervision of a qualified natural resource specialist, archeologist, biologist or technician, to ensure a minimization of impacts to biological or cultural resources. Areas adjacent to where route closure/rehabilitation is planned may occasionally be used to gather dead vertical mulching material, in a manner designed to avoid causing local dead and down habitat loss, yet also accomplish restoration objectives. In no circumstances are shrubs that shade animal burrows or that are located adjacent to cultural resources, removed for use as mulching material. However, live and dead vegetation from the immediate region, salvaged from land clearing or road maintenance operations, may occasionally be used as mulching material in such restoration projects. Memorandums of understanding developed between land management agencies and local transportation departments, regarding salvage and storage of native material for this application, can facilitate large-scale projects. The use of pitting, ripping, or other scarification techniques within the confines of route or roadbed soil disturbance is sometimes necessary for rapid site recovery. Such scarification is done with hand-tools or through the use of heavy equipment and machinery (toothed rake, pitter, or similar device pulled by a tractor). After scarification, the live or dead vegetation is placed in a vertical fashion within the confines of route or roadbed soil disturbance, in a manner designed to conform to adjacent terrain and vegetation. The Barstow Field Office is able to restore Mojave Desert habitats for about $500 per acre, due to relationships and agreements it has in place with the California Conservation Corps and other local young adult labor groups. Under an existing agreement, the California Conservation Corps will match BLM contributed project funds on a dollar for dollar basis. As a consequence, funds generated by large habitat-disturbing projects could also qualify for matching by the state of California, in the form of matching labor funds available via the use of the California Conservation Corps. Conclusion: Vertical mulching can be an economical technique for restoring unauthorized roads and trails in desert tortoise and other sensitive species’ habitats. In some circumstances it may provide much more “bang for the buck” when compared to traditional forms of offsite compensation. Its application in selected areas of the California Desert will reduce anthropogenic impacts to the listed desert tortoise, contributing significantly to the recovery of this threatened species. References: Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 1997. West Mojave route designation, Ord Mountain pilot unit, biological resource screening components. California Desert District BLM Office, Riverside, California.