Solitude and Visitor Use

The Wilderness Act’s provision for providing “outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined experience” requires that management maintain this aspect of wilderness character, an increasingly complex directive given a growing population, fixed land base, shifting visitor expectations, and variable definitions of solitude and satisfaction.

When agreeing to this phrase, was Congress indicating that 'solitude', 'primitive' and 'unconfined' were separate dimensions?  Or were they suggesting that providing one of the three was satisfactory? Or were they using 'primitive' and 'unconfined' to describe necessary aspects of an experience of solitude? 

Click here to read a policy analysis paper  by Steve McCool on this question which is fundamental to wilderness stewardship, the character of wilderness, and to the ability of the federal agencies to provide opportunities for consistent and defined visitor experiences.

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The Society for Wilderness Stewardship is a non-profit, charitable organization under the 501 (c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue Code.