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Traditional Tools and Skills
The Wilderness Act of 1964
The Wilderness Act of 1964 provides direction related to Traditional Tools and
Skills (TTS) in the purpose, definition, and the prohibition of certain uses.
The purpose of wilderness:
SECTION 2.(a) In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by
expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas
within the United States and its possessions, leaving no lands designated for preservation
and protection in their natural condition,…
The purpose of wilderness is to guard against the effects of modern civilization
and the inherent influences of motorized and mechanized activities by
designating some areas to be managed without these influences so they may be
in their natural condition. Each use of motorized equipment, while not entirely
prohibited, potentially increases the influence of civilization and mechanization on
The definition of wilderness:
SECTION 2.(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works
dominate the landscape,…
In the definition of wilderness it is made clear that it is a place that is in contrast,
or different, than other places. The tools, works, and developments common
elsewhere are not appropriate in wilderness. Every use of motorized equipment
leaves less contrast between wilderness and other lands.
Prohibition of Certain Uses:
SECTION 4.(c) Except as specifically provided for in this Act, and subject to existing
private rights, there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any
wilderness area designated by this Act and except as necessary to meet minimum
requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including
measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the
area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or
motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no
structure or installation within any such area.
Motorized equipment, motor vehicles, landing of aircraft, and all forms of
mechanical transport are prohibited unless they are the minimum required for
administration of the area as wilderness. The justification for the use of
motorized tools must go beyond describing a method to accomplish an essential
project but also prove that it is the minimum tool that will have the least adverse
effect on wilderness. The only criteria provide by law is that the an exception for
the use of motorized tools, mechanical transport, etc, is that it is in support of
administering the area as wilderness. While cost and efficiency are important,
they are not the overriding reasons for justifying the use of non-traditional tools.
Motorized tools and mechanical transportation devices are prohibited unless
there is no feasible, safe way to accomplish the necessary task without them.
(See the Minimum Requirements section of this Toolbox for more information.)