The first priority when beginning project set-up at any of our sites, but particularly at sites that operate within either a Wilderness Area (WA) or a Wilderness Study Area (WSA), is for HWI to instill the crew with a low-impact wilderness ethic, so that all set-up and subsequent field research activities are carried out with the lowest impact possible to the WSA. All crew members, volunteers, and visitors will take an active, vigilant role in preserving the fragile system by adhering to project operations designed to minimize any impacts. The Project Leader will discuss the ethic and constraints of Leave No Trace throughout the season during morning meetings with the crew and visitors staying at the site. All individuals (crew and visitors) staying at the study site will receive relevant literature and be informed of what comprises an appropriate wilderness ethic. Furthermore, BLM or Forest Service advisors will visit periodically during the season to stress the importance of Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly behavior.
HWI operates 4 of our 14 monitoring sites in WAs or WSAs: Manzanos (NM) , Sandias (NM) , Wellsville (UT) , and Goshutes (NV) . The managing agency (Forest Service for the former 3 and BLM for the latter) maintain strict Leave No Trace wilderness ethics, including group size limits. As permit holders operating in these sites by permission of the Forest Service or BLM, HWI has specific responsibilities for helping visitors uphold these regulations.
Based on conversations with the District Ranger for the Sandias site in New Mexico, HWI will do the following:
1) Maintain information about the group size regulation and links to the Forest Service and/or BLM website on the HWI website;
2) Inform any group that contacts us ahead of time of the regulation and encourage compliance;
3) Do not schedule multiple large groups to a single site in one day;
4) Supply a Wilderness ethics program that covers the group size rule to visiting groups, especially to those groups surpassing the 10-person limit;
5) Note group size, name of group leaders, and organization of any visiting group above the 10-person limit, and report this information to the management agency, who will follow up with a violation letter. Knowingly violating group size restrictions in a Wilderness Areas is considered a trespass.
Click HERE to learn more about a Wilderness Study Area. Courtesy of the BLM's Elko Field Office.