Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929
SOME NOTES ON RESEARCH RESERVES AND WILDERNESS AREAS IN THE NATIONAL FORESTS
By L. A. Barrett
Assistant District Forester, U. S. Forest Service
Wilderness areas are being set aside by the Forest Service in high mountain areas which are exceedingly important from the scenic and recreational point of view. These areas are being reserved in virgin condition for campers who travel by horseback or afoot. No roads or buildings are to be permitted in these areas and we hope to maintain as closely as possible the “natural” conditions. Seventeen of these areas, varying from 25,000 to 750,000 acres, are being set aside in California.
We class as “research areas” reservations which are set aside purely for scientific study in their natural state. We aim to have these represent all of the characteristic types of forest cover. In this we are faced with many practical problems, for, as you know, a typical forest of sugar pine or western yellow pine has enormous commercial value, and in order to have the area representative, it must be sufficiently large to cover an entire water shed. Perhaps by carefully correlating the research reserves set aside by the Forest Service and the National Park Service we can arrange for cooperative use of certain research reserves and thus prevent duplication of effort and expense.
Research reserves may be included within the wilderness areas or outside; they must be located wherever the most suitable area can be found.
In deciding upon the size of a research area, the type of problem involved will, to a large extent, determine the area — occasionally research areas may not be more than 1,000 acres, but usually they will be of much greater extent.
As contrasted to research areas, the “wilderness areas” are a type of recreational reserve. They are open for the free use of packing parties and knapsackers and are not specifically set aside for scientific observation. On the other hand, no camping will be allowed in research areas and every effort will be made to exclude the public.
We should recognize as exceedingly important the fact that we must set aside research areas at once. They must be reserved immediately because conditions are changing so fast that in a few years it will be impossible to establish these reserves. If set aside at the present time, then they will find a place in the permanent administrative plans, and arrangements can be made to protect them from encroachment by physical development or by commercial or recreational use.