Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Recreation Management

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Perry J. Brown

Commitee Members

Kelly Dixon, William T. Borrie


Forest Service, Historic Structures, National Historic Preservation Act, Wilderness, Wilderness Act


University of Montana


Ryan, Molly M., M.S., 2009 Recreation Management The House That Smokey Built: The Forest Service Management of Historic Structures in Wilderness Committee Chair: Dr. Perry J. Brown Debates about the appropriateness of historic structures being present and preserved in wilderness are not new issues. In some form or another, this topic has surfaced, been debated, then simmered, but never properly addressed or resolved. The purposes of this paper are to identify management gaps within the Forest Service administration regarding the management of historic structures within wilderness areas and to recommend how these gaps can be filled. Data were collected from 20 people using semi-structured qualitative interviews. The questions focused on the employees perceptions of how well the Forest Service was able to meet its legal obligations, if they felt the Forest Service was living up to the standards they set for themselves in their policy, individual experiences resulting in the day to day management of historic structures in wilderness, and Federal laws such as the Wilderness Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. Due to gaps in written policy, many problems arise regarding the management of historic structures in wilderness. Respondents felt they had problems meeting legal responsibilities in terms of lacking money, time, resources (manpower and materials), desiring more skill focused training and almost constantly partaking in debates driven by ideologies of key players involved with the management of historic structures in wilderness. The research provides recommendations to the Forest Service producing a policy that specifically addresses: 1) Developing a philosophical position for the agency, 2) Administering historic structures in wilderness under its own heading in the policy, 3) Clarifying ‘Release from management’ and ‘Management by neglect’, 4) Training, 5) Monitoring, and 6) Interpreting the resource.



© Copyright 2009 Molly Michelle Ryan