Wilderness in the 21st century: A framework for testing assumptions about ecological intervention in wilderness using a case study of fire ecology in the rocky mountains

Cameron E. Naficy, Eric G. Keeling, Peter Landres, Paul F. Hessburg, Thomas T. Veblen, Anna Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Changes in the climate and in key ecological processes are prompting increased debate about ecological restoration and other interventions in wilderness. The prospect of intervention in wilderness raises legal, scientific, and values-based questions about the appropriateness of possible actions. In this article, we focus on the role of science to elucidate the potential need for intervention. We review the meaning of “untrammeled” from the 1964 Wilderness Act to aid our understanding of the legal context for potential interventions in wilderness. We explore the tension between restraint and active intervention in managing wilderness and introduce a framework for testing ecological assumptions when evaluating restoration proposals. We illustrate use of the framework in the restoration of fire regimes and fuel conditions in ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests of the US Rocky Mountains. Even in this relatively well-studied example, we find that the assumptions underlying proposed interventions in wilderness need to be critically evaluated and tested before new, more intensive management paradigms are embraced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-395
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Forestry
Volume114
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • Fire ecology
  • Intervention
  • Restoration
  • Untrammeled
  • Wilderness

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Wilderness in the 21st century: A framework for testing assumptions about ecological intervention in wilderness using a case study of fire ecology in the rocky mountains'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this