What is a WSA?
After passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, all publicly owned lands were inventoried for their natural values to determine whether they qualified for wilderness designation, a designation which would protect them from further development and preserve them for future generations. A Wilderness Study Area, or WSA, is an area of public land that has been inventoried and found to have wilderness characteristics, and awaits approval or denial of wilderness designation from Congress. WSAs often have high ecological, geological, cultural, and scenic values.
The rules for different WSAs vary. While some follow the strict regulations of wilderness, others will allow activities such as biking, ORV use on designated roads, livestock grazing, mining, building of nonpermanent infrastructure, and numerous other activities.