Wilderness is a place where the imprint of humans is substantially unnoticed. It is where natural processes are the primary influences and human activity is limited to primitive recreation and minimum tools. This allows us to experience wild places without intention to disturb or destroy natural processes.

Myths About Wilderness Debunked

Myth:  Wilderness areas "lock up" the forest.

Fact:  Hunting, fishing, horse riding, hiking and camping ARE allowed in wilderness areas.  Only mechanized recreation is not allowed. In the Shawnee National Forest, the seven wilderness areas plus the three proposed wilderness areas constitute only 14% of the forest. That is not too much to save in wilderness.

Myth:  Wilderness makes it harder to fight fires by not allowing roads.

Fact:  In emergencies, authorized mechanized equipment may go into wilderness areas to fight fires,
following the "minimum tool necessary" principle.  In addition, studies have shown that there are more
fires in roaded areas than in roadless areas. Areas adjacent to roads dry up faster.

Myth:  Injured people cannot get help in a wilderness area.

Fact:  Emergency vehicles are allowed in wilderness areas to get to injured people.  In very rugged areas, the best vehicle for emergency evacuation would be a helicopter.

Myth:  Trails cannot be maintained in Wilderness.

Fact:  Trails can be properly maintained with hand tools and support from pack animals.  Also, since trails in wilderness are narrower they don't need as much maintenance.  Also, people have proven that they are more willing to volunteer to help maintain a more unspoiled areas such as wilderness areas.

Myth:  Wilderness areas are not accessible for handicapped people.

Fact:  A handicapped person who can ride a horse is allowed on designated trails in wilderness areas.  We support the US Forest Service development of programs to help handicapped people enjoy wilderness areas.

Myth:  There are other ways to protect areas without Wilderness designation so designation is unnecessary.

Fact:  Congressional designation as a Wilderness Area is the only way to permanently protect an area from logging and oil drilling, as well as, from parking lots, buildings and motorized vehicles. Other levels of protection are less strict, and what protection they offer can be eroded by the Forest Service, the President, and others but not if the area has Wilderness designation.

Myth:  Wilderness designation will limit hunting opportunities.

Fact:  Hunting regulations are not changed when an area is designated as wilderness.

Myth:  Wilderness isn't multiple use.

Fact:  Wilderness is not a "use", but a management designation that supports multiple uses and values. 
Wilderness designation insures that two of the uses in the forest are wilderness and solitude. Other uses for wilderness include:  wildlife habitat, scenic-viewing, hiking, backpacking, boating, camping, hunting, fishing, and grazing.

Myth:  Wilderness only benefits "elite environmentalists."

Fact:  Wilderness allows us to preserve at least some areas for future generations.  Wilderness supports many values that benefit everyone:  clean air and water, genetic diversity, archeological protection, open space, health, and inexpensive, family-oriented recreation. A person with only a day pack and comfortable shoes can enjoy the wilderness.

Myth:  Wilderness is bad for the economy.

Fact:  Wilderness is GOOD for the economy.  The economies of rural areas near wilderness continue to grow while many others are stagnating.  While the portion of the economy represented by extractive industries remain stagnant, other sectors including recreation and tourism are booming.

Learn more at: http://www.wilderness.net/nwps/default.cfm