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Why are motorized equipment and mechanical transport prohibited in wilderness?

The Wilderness Act states "...there should be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport..." Where motorboat and aircraft were used before a wilderness was designated, the Wilderness Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and other laws allow use to continue. Mobility-impaired persons, or persons with disabilities, may use wheelchairs in wilderness. Motorized wheelchairs, which are suitable for indoor use, (i.e. battery and electric motor driven) are also allowed under provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Wilderness Act makes exceptions for wilderness managers to use motorized equipment and methods of mechanical transport, but only "...as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of the Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area)..." Where possible, managers try to use traditional tools, skills and methods of travel, even if they may be more costly or time-consuming. Exceptions where managers may use motorized equipment or methods of mechanical transport might include search and rescue, fire fighting, or fish stocking if it occurred before an area was designated.