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Transmission Lands with Wilderness Characteristics

Lands with Wilderness Characteristics
Present, Potentially Affected

Section 2(c) of the Wilderness Act and Sections 201 and 202 of Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) establish criteria for designating lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC). This designation carries out the “multiple use” clause in FLPMA to provide “solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation” to users. Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) designated by Congress or pending before Congress are not included in LWC’s. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducts a Wilderness Characteristic Inventory Process on sections of land to evaluate whether or not the area qualifies as a LWC. Check the Wilderness Characteristic Inventory for updated land listings. Criteria for public lands to be designated as LWC: Size: 5,000 roadless acres of continuous public lands or an area large enough to pursue preservation and be “untrammeled by man” must exist.

Naturalness: The pristine characteristics of the land are evident and only forces of nature have precluded the area.

Outstanding opportunities: The area provides unique circumstances where “solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation” exist.

Supplemental Values: “The area may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic or historical value.”

Note: If the size criteria is not met, the area cannot be designated as LWC.

Lands with Wilderness Characteristics Impacts & Mitigation

Transmission line tower pads, wires and substations can impact several land characteristics including, but not limited to, aesthetics, rangeland, private property, species habitat, and watersheds. Construction activities may decrease available rangeland for livestock and inhibit natural feature viewing for recreationalists. Federal agencies work towards omitting lands with wilderness characteristics in transmission line corridors; however, in some scenarios, it is the unavoidable.

Typical mitigation measures include the following:

Surveys, monitoring and compensation

  • Conduct habitat maintenance and species monitoring during and after the construction phases.
  • Private land owners are typically compensated for land parcels used in the project, while educational programs are developed to highlight the newly acquired land’s unique characteristics to visitors.

Federal Agencies

  • Seek funding for restoration projects by agency collaboration, volunteers, and grant funds.