How Wild Wilderness Works

History of Wild Wilderness

Wild Wilderness began in 1991, when residents of Bend, Oregon, began attending local forest service meetings. Three years later, they were appalled when plans emerged for a motorized SnoPark in a local winter recreation area. They ar­gued that permitting motor vehicles would endanger local snowshoe walkers and skiers. The organization drew attention to the issue, which resulted in the plan's failure. Some of the trails have since been closed to snowmobiles through the group's efforts [source: Wild Wilderness].

In 1997, Wild Wilderness members discovered that plans had been made to allow for the development of some public lands through the American Recreation Coalition (ARC). At that time, the group expanded its reach beyond local levels, creating a Web site to inform the public of plans to privatize the nation's national parks [source: Wild Wilderness].

Wild Wilderness executive director Scott Silver mounted a campaign to bring about awareness of, and repeal, the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, known as Fee-Demo, which began in 1996. This provision, inserted into the Interior Appropriation Bill, authorized four agencies -- the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- to charge fees for recreational activities on public land. Fee-Demo was accomplished despite the objections of more than 300 conservation and recreation groups [source: Silver].

The roots of Fee-Demo began in 1962, when the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) noted that tourism and recreation on American public lands was an item of economic interest. That report led to legislation such as the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act, which included a provision for charging fees. By doing so, the federal government hoped to be able to cut support for land management [source: Silver].

If you'd like to find out what keeps Wild Wilderness motivated, move on to the next section to learn about the group's mission.