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Minimum Requirements Analysis

A minimum requirements analysis (MRA) is required by law whenever land managers are considering a use prohibited by Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Some agency policies may also require an MRA for other uses or activities in wilderness. Although there are other ways to complete an MRA, the Minimum Requirements Decision Guide (MRDG) is a process that was developed by the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center to help land managers make informed, defensible decisions that comply with the Wilderness Act. The MRDG has been widely adopted and is required by some agencies.

Minimum Requirements Decision Guide, 2016 Revision

The MRDG was revised in 2016, resulting in a somewhat abbreviated process that still honors the statutory requirements of the Wilderness Act. The following points briefly describe the changes that were made to the MRDG process:
  1. Safety was removed as a criterion because alternatives in which the risks to personnel or the public cannot be reasonably mitigated (by PPE, training, contractors, best practices, etc.) should not be analyzed. They should be listed among other alternatives considered but not analyzed.
  2. Economics was removed as a criterion because alternatives for which the cost would be so high as to make the alternative "infeasible" (the funds could never realistically be obtained) should not be analyzed. They should be listed among other alternatives considered but not analyzed. Otherwise, remember that cost is not a factor when determining the minimum requirement for wilderness decisions.
  3. Traditional Skills was removed as a criterion because it simply cannot be used to influence an MRDG determination. While we hope units will do what they can to keep these skills alive, and we must, the MRDG process is not the place for that.
The online courses and case study examples on wilderness.net that use the MRDG are inconsistent with the new MRDG. The affected online courses and case study examples were recently revised and changes are time-consuming and costly, so they will remain inconsistent with new MRDG for some time. In the meantime, simply ignore the criteria above, where they appear, since they should not effectively influence MRDG determinations.

Process Outline
Provides a brief outline of the MRDG process.
Overview
Provides general information on the origin of the MRDG process, how to use it, and how it relates to emergencies, NEPA, planning.
Instructions
Provides guidance on how to fill out worksheets.
Workbook (Excel format)
Provides an Excel-based fill-in form that all agencies can use to display and compare proposed alternatives and document decisions.

Workbook (WORD format)
Provides an alternative to the Excel spreadsheet for those who find the Excel version cumbersome. Rollover screen tips and links provide guidance for things that are different than the Excel version. The WORD version requires a lot of duplicate entry and manual calculations, but the text boxes and cells auto expand and everything is in a single (long) document. It is entirely unprotected, so users may cut, copy, and paste as they wish. As with the Excel version, the light blue cells are the ones in which users enter information. Note that the section name and page numbers are found at the bottom of each section.
Agency Guidelines
Provides additional agency-specific guidance, if necessary, or desired.
Evaluation Guide
Provides section-by-section guidance on what an unacceptable, acceptable or outstanding MRDG contains.
Case Study Examples
The examples provided here should be used as a reference while following agency guidelines and using the current MRDG Instructions and Worksheets as needed. Additional information is provided in a WORD document accompanying each worksheet.
Alaska Supplement
Provides assistance in adapting the use of the MRDG to Alaska's wilderness units with respect to the Wilderness Act of 1964 (PL 88-577) and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA), as amended, (PL 96-487).
Minimum Requirements Analysis Training Courses
These free online courses are available from the Carhart Center. 2014 Minimum Requirements Analysis Live webinars are also available online.