Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Wilderness Stewardship Performance elements- "Opportunities for Solitude"

In the end, it may be solitude that the future will thank us most for conserving- the kind of solitude born out of stillness...where a quieting of the soul inspires creative acts.” 
― Terry Tempest Williams

One of our selected Wilderness Stewardship Performance Elements in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is "Opportunities for Solitude." The direction given to us by the WSP guidebook that was completed in 2018 was to:

-have a solitude monitoring plan and protocol that at minimum conforms to the national protocol
-do a baseline inventory of current opportunities for solitude

What that meant for us was recording on trail visitor contacts like we already do but making sure we did so for 4 hour blocks each with a minimum of 5 weekdays and 5 weekends for each monitoring area selected. We also did campsite solitude monitoring where we would go to any occupied camping location and record how many other occupied sites where visible from it. For both on trail and campsite monitoring we were taking note of which of the 4 Wilderness Recreation Opportunity Spectrum zones we were in as there are different solitude expectations for each zone. For example one would expect to see a lot more people in the "Transition Zone" which are areas near trailheads than one would expect to see in the "Trailless Zone" which is the least used, where there are no managed system trails, and generally furtherest from trailheads. Alpine Lakes Area Wilderness Management Plan describes the "Transition Zone" as an area with "No more than 7 encounters per day with with other traveling groups....No more than 2 other camping parties visible from a campsite" compared to the "Trailless Zone" as an area " no more than one encounter per day between groups for 50 percent of the season and no more than two encounters per day during the remainder of the use season. No other camping party visible from a campsite." Our solitude data collection allows us to have definitive documentation of solitude in our Wilderness that we can compare with the management plan and will also allow us to track change over time when we collect again.

Wilderness Recreation Opportunity Spectrum Zones from the Alpine Lakes Area Management Plan