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Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

College of the Environment

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Bach, Andrew J.

Second Advisor

Medler, Michael J.

Third Advisor

Burrows, Robert A. (Robert Allen)


The Wilderness Act of 1964 outlined five qualities of wilderness character for protection in Federal wilderness areas under the National Wilderness Preservation System. These attributes include the degree to which the wilderness area is untrammeled by modern humans, natural, undeveloped, contains outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined types of recreation, and other features of value specific to each wilderness area. Using spatial analysis, GIS modeling techniques, raster calculations, and over 40 data measures, this study mapped degradation to these five qualities in the Stephen Mather Wilderness (SMW) of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex (NOCA), Washington.

The results showed that over 93% (598,620 acres) of the SMW total acreage falls within the 81-100 value class range of wilderness character degradation (or lack thereof), and less than 1% (1,053 acres) shows less significant degradation (value class 50 or less). In terms of total acreage, much of the untrammeled, natural, undeveloped and features of value specific to SMW were well preserved, yet outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation showed 211,410 acres of degradation in the 70-value class or below due to high wilderness visitation rates, restrictions on visitor behavior, facilities that decrease self-reliance, and ease of access that decreased modeled feelings of remoteness.




Wilderness, wilderness character, stephen mather wilderness, north cascades national park service complex, GIS, cartography, national wilderness preservation system


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Wilderness areas--Washington (State)--Stephen Mather Wilderness; Nature conservation--Washington (State)--Stephen Mather Wilderness; Geographic information systems--Washington (State)--Stephen Mather Wilderness

Geographic Coverage

Stephen Mather Wilderness (Wash.); North Cascades National Park (Wash.)




masters theses




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