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Technical Core Competencies For Wilderness Stewardship Specialists

This page identifies interagency Wilderness Technical Core Competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) needed to implement wilderness stewardship law, regulation, and policy at three different levels of expertise for employees who are wilderness stewardship specialists.

Wilderness Stewardship Specialists are those employees having varying levels of responsibility for wilderness program planning, coordination, implementation, stewardship, and other activities.

Wilderness managers and other employees having responsibility for wilderness, no matter how limited, can use competencies to identify gaps between existing and needed wilderness knowledge, skills, and abilities.  With this information they and their supervisors can develop and prioritize Individual Training and Development Plans.  These competencies can be used by each agency to identify training gaps and to guide development and delivery of training courses specifically designed to bridge these gaps.

Levels of Expertise

Whether 10 percent or 100 percent of an employee's time is dedicated to wilderness stewardship, the complexity of the job remains the same and requires expertise across a number of disciplines.  Expertise needed varies, depending on position.  Three different levels of expertise for wilderness stewardship specialists and non-specialists have been identified.  Levels of expertise are so named to ensure consistency with Office of Personnel Management nomenclature while accommodating agency differences. 

Wilderness Specialists Levels of Expertise

  1. Entry Level:  KSAs needed to recognize wilderness stewardship components, opportunities and needs, and to refer opportunities and needs to appropriate specialists. 
  2. Full Performance Level:  KSAs needed to fully and independently identify and analyze wilderness stewardship opportunities and needs for most situations, to develop interdisciplinary solutions with appropriate specialists, and to make recommendations for making decisions.  Individual may train other professionals and technicians in the principles, terminology, and field practice of the subject. 
  3. Expert Level:  KSAs needed to fully and independently identify and analyze wilderness stewardship opportunities and needs in complex situations, develop programmatic interdisciplinary solutions with appropriate specialists, and make recommendations for making decisions and policy changes.  Individual may train other professionals and technicians in the principles, terminology, and field practice of the subject. 

Competency Areas

Wilderness stewardship specialists must demonstrate varying levels of skill in each of six competency areas:
  1. Wilderness History, Law, Regulation, and Policy – KSAs needed to interpret and implement the history and laws of the National Wilderness Preservation System, and agency wilderness stewardship regulations and policies. 
  2. Managing Special Provisions – KSA needed to manage the special provisions identified in 1964 Wilderness Act and in subsequent enabling legislation.
  3. Wilderness Planning – KSAs needed to address wilderness stewardship needs in programmatic and project level planning processes.
  4. Wilderness Field Skills – KSAs needed to accomplish specific field tasks in a variety of wilderness settings.
  5. Visitor Use Management & Monitoring - KSAs needed to manage and monitor visitor use in wilderness.
  6. Natural & Cultural Resources Management & Monitoring - KSAs needed to manage and monitor natural and cultural resources in wilderness.

To identify the skills you need to develop, simply identify your agency and position in the tables below.  This will identify your expected level of expertise.  With that information, click on any of the competency areas above to identify the competencies you need to acquire.  You can use this information with your supervisor to develop and prioritize your Individual Development and Training Plan.

These competencies were developed and extensively reviewed by an interagency team drawing from work originally produced by the Forest Service (FS) and by the National Park Service in the early 1990s in response to requests from the FS Corporate Training Office and from the Office of Personnel Management.


Wilderness Specialists


Bureau of Land Management

Fish & Wildlife Service

Forest Service

National Park Service



Entry Level



·      Field Office wilderness staff

·      Seasonal wilderness specialist

·    Wilderness Rangers

·   Seasonal wilderness & backcountry park rangers


Full Performance Level


·      Field Office wilderness lead

·      Refuge Managers & Deputy Refuge Managers

·      Refuge Operations Specialist

·    Wilderness Manager or Specialist

·    Forest and District staff with wilderness as part of their duties

·   Permanent wilderness & backcountry park rangers

·   Park wilderness specialists




Expert Level




·      WO-172 staff

·      State wilderness lead

·      District wilderness lead

·      Carhart Rep

·      National Wilderness Coordinator

·      Regional Wilderness Coordinators

·      Carhart Rep

·    Forest wilderness staff specialists with wilderness as a major part of their duties

·    Regional Wilderness Program Managers

·    National Wilderness Program Manager and Steering Committee Member

·    WWSR Director

·    Carhart Rep

·   WASO Wilderness Staff and  Regional Coordinators

·   Carhart Rep

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