Why build WildSNAP?

“What is a Wilderness Study Area?”

A Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is a special designation that applies to lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress designates the area as wilderness or directs BLM to manage the area for other uses. From the definition of wilderness characteristics in Sec. 2(c) of the Wilderness Act, wilderness characteristics are summarized as: size, naturalness, and outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation and can potentially include “other features,” sometimes referred to as “supplemental values”. Since only Congress can designate a wilderness, WSAs remain under the BLM’s “non-impairment” protection until Congress makes a decision about them. Additionally, these areas often do not receive as much visitation as designated wilderness areas, making them one of the “best kept secrets” on public lands.

“Why Create an App?”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and American Conservation Experience (ACE) partnered to develop an electronic citizen-science based monitoring program for Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs).

We wanted to allow concerned citizens an avenue to explore WSAs and to aid in the protection of our Nation’s most pristine, undeveloped lands, while at the same time exploring and enjoying everything our public lands have to offer.

We also wanted to help bring conservation into the 21st Century, and recognized the proliferation of mobile devices, their ability to take photos and collect various forms of data, and their ease of use.  It seemed like a natural fit.

The application, called WildSnap, is available to BLM employees and members of the public who complete this training. Use of the app will assist BLM in increasing monitoring capacity for Wilderness Study Areas, to ensure that they are managed to the non-impairment standard.