Wilderness Explorer - National Park Service


Forest Service U.S. Department of Agriculture

National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the Interior

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service U.S. Department of the Interior

Wilderness Explorer

Jr. Ranger Activities and Adventures for Ages 8 and up



Anniversary Edition

Welcome to Wilderness This activity booklet is designed for exploring wilderness, either at a wilderness area you are visiting, one near your home, one you would like to visit, or one you just want to study. Activities are geared for ages 8 and up, so look for the bear paw and choose the activities that are right for you. Ages 8 and up

Ages 12 and up

Ages 16 and up

ASK A WILDERNESS RANGER! As you explore, you may find it helpful to ask a ranger or look for information in a visitor center. You and your adult can also look for information on the internet. Five great places to learn more about wilderness: • Wilderness


• Bureau of Land Management www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/NLCS/Wilderness.html • Forest Service


• National Park Service


• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Answers to many of of the activities can be found on page 21.


Special Places Draw or describe a place that is SPECIAL to you in this space. Why is it special?

What does the word WILD make you think of? Draw or describe it here.


What might be SPECIAL about a place that is WILD? Draw or desribe it here.

People And Wilderness Ideas Ask 3 people what they think “Wilderness” is. Record their responses here. 1. Person interviewed:

Wilderness is... Example: A. a home for wild animals B. a quiet place to think C. a place to be free D. your idea

2. Person interviewed:

Wilderness is...

3. Person interviewed (could be a wilderness volunteer or ranger):


Wilderness is...


What Is Wilderness? WILDERNESS is an area that is ... wild. You know what it means to be wild - when you are free to follow your own will. When you aren’t controlled by others. Complete the following description of wilderness by using these words to fill in the blanks: will






In wilderness, nature follows its own _____________. The animals aren’t ______________. The trees are not _______________. The rivers run _______________, without dams. Visitors enjoy being in ______________ as it was before modern humans _____________ it. * Native American cultures believe that all land ought to be respected, and may not view wilderness as a separate idea. In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, recognizing that certain wild places are special and worthy of being protected forever. Here is the definition of wilderness from the Act:

“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Vocabulary: “Trammel” refers to a net, or a shackle for horses. Most generally, it means a barrier to free action; a restraint.

2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In honor of the Wilderness Act’s 50th birthday, think about this: What does wilderness mean to you? Use the space below to capture your ideas with words and/or pictures.

* Hold booklet to a mirror to find the order of the missing words: degnahc ,erutan ,eerf ,tuc ,dellortnoc ,lliw


Wilderness Safety Wilderness Explorers need to know how to be safe when they’re exploring the wilderness. Being safe in wilderness begins before you start your trip. • Always go with another person. Check the weather and conditions for the area you are visiting.


Tell someone who is staying behind exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.

2. 3. 4. 5.

1. There are “10 essentials” you and your adult should have with you to be safe and prepared for emergencies. A box is drawn around each essential item. Write the name of each item on the list.

6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

2. What else would you like to bring? Circle the items below. Don’t make your pack too heavy!


Where Is Wilderness? There are over 758 wilderness areas containing nearly 110 million acres of wilderness. The Bureau of Land Management manages 221 wilderness areas (8% of the land area within the National Wilderness Preservation System [NWPS]). The Forest Service manages 439 units (33% of the land area within the NWPS). The National Park Service manages 62 units of wilderness (40% of the land area within the NWPS). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages 72 units (18% of the land area within the NWPS).

Draw or name something you would find in wilderness in Alaska.

Using the map at the right, find the answers: 1. How many wilderness areas are in your home state? 2. How many wilderness areas are in the state you are visiting? 3. Which state has the greatest number of wilderness areas? 4. Six states have no wilderness areas. Name them here:

Draw or name something you would find in wilderness in Hawaii.

Ask a wilderness ranger (or check the visitor center or the internet): How much wilderness is in this forest or park?

Just for fun, color all the states you have visited. 6

Are We There Yet? Put an X on the Olympic Wilderness and the Saguaro Wilderness. 5. Using the ruler below (cut it out if needed), estimate the distance between the two wilderness areas: ___________miles. 6. Suppose that you and your family could drive from one to the other at 60 miles per hour (mph). How long would it take to get there? Hint: distance ____(miles) ÷ speed ______ (mph) = time ________(hours). What might you find that is different between the two wilderness areas?

Which wilderness area named below is closest to:

New York City? _________________________


San Francisco? _________________________


The names are just a few of the wilderness areas in national forests and parks.









Who Was Here Before? Ask a wilderness ranger (or check the visitor center or the internet): 1. What people lived here before the Europeans came?

2. Did these people live in villages or did they move their homes to follow and hunt animals? Draw a picture of where they might have lived below:

3. What things might these people have eaten (such as roots, berries, buffalo)? List or draw a picture below:

4. Do these people or their descendants still live here or near here?

Important: If you find any arrowheads, pieces of pottery, or other old objects be sure to leave them where you found them so that archaeologists can reconstruct history! Answer the first four questions, plus: 5. Did these people have names for any of the natural features such as mountains, rivers, or valleys? Write down one of the names here: 6. Is this name different than the one on the area map?


Wilderness Word Search

Words may be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal - left to right

Find at least 8 words


Find at least 12 words



Find at least 16 words


Leave No Trace The Wilderness Act defines wilderness as a place where “man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” How can you be a responsible Wilderness Explorer? The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are a good starting place: 1. Plan ahead and prepare 2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces 3. Dispose of waste properly 4. Leave what you find 5. Minimize campfire impacts 6. Respect wildlife

Did you ever hear the phrase “Leave only footprints...take only photographs?” Even a footprint can leave an impact. Please be thoughtful of where you step.

7. Be considerate of other visitors Go through the maze on the next page and apply these principles.

Help Leave No Trace on your public lands! Pick up three pieces of litter and put them in the trash.

Pick up a bag of litter and put it in the trash.

Pick up a bag of litter. Separate and recycle as many items as possible. Put the remainder in the trash.

RECYCLING is better for the Earth than putting things in a landfill, but it still takes a lot of energy to recycle. REUSE is even better for the Earth. Refill you water bottle and conserve the Earth’s resources. Just for fun, decorate and color the water bottle in this book or your own water bottle. To learn more about Leave No Trace visit www. LNT.org 10

Leave No Trace Maze These Wilderness Explorers are about to go on a trip through a Wilderness. Help them make the best choices about where to go and what to do along the way. Each stop has a numerical rating with it. Add up your score & find your impact level on page 21.

points A. 1 B. 2 C. 1 D. 3 E. 2 F. 1 G. 5 H. 1 I. 5 J. 1 K. 5 L. 1 M. 1 N. 3 O. 5 P. 1 Q. 1 R. 1 my total ____


Be a Scientist Wilderness is a place where scientists can go to understand plants, animals, and landscapes that are in a natural state, unaffected by human activities. As a scientist, you will ask a question, make a prediction (called a hypothesis), and test your hypothesis by observing the thing you asked a question about. 1. Go outside and find a plant or animal to observe. Describe it here with words and/or pictures:

2. Come up with a question about it. For example, what does this bird eat? Does this plant prefer to live in dry soil or wet?

3. Make a hypothesis. This is an “educated guess” about the answer to your question. For example, I think that the bird eats …” or I think that the plant will grow in soil that is ….”

4. Think about and describe how you could test your hypothesis. If it is possible to test the hypothesis by making observations, then do so. If not, think about what kinds of observations you can make. For example, “I will observe the bird and see what it eats…”


Be A Scientist 5. Write down your observations here.

6. Do you think the animal or plant you observed was affected by people being nearby? If so, how?

Complete the six previous questions, plus

ASK A WILDERNESS RANGER (or check the visitor center or internet):

What kinds of research are going on in the wilderness you are visiting or studying?

Complete the seven previous questions, plus: 8. Develop a hypothesis that would best be tested both inside and outside of wilderness. Why would it be important to compare observations inside and outside of wilderness?

Do you participate in your school’s science fair? Consider a wilderness hypothesis for your fair project.


What can you do ●●In this picture, put an “X” through the things that you think DON’T belong in wilderness. ●●Color the things that you think DO belong in wilderness.


in Wilderness Areas?

●●Draw yourself doing something that YOU would like to do in Wilderness. 15

Wilderness Adventure The best way to learn about wilderness is to get out and explore it! Find out where the wilderness areas are, and go explore with your family. If you are unable to go to a wilderness area, ask a ranger to help you find a place that is away from development (like roads and buildings). Make sure you complete the “Wilderness Safety” activity before you head out. Notice what makes wilderness different from places you spend most of your time in. Use ALL of your senses. Find a quiet place to sit for 5 minutes - describe in words or pictures what you:


Hear Smell Feel Most importantly, have fun!


Wilderness Adventure When you get back home, think about what you would tell a friend about your wilderness experience. Be creative! You can write a story or poem, draw a picture, or perhaps make up a song or play. Your notes from page 16 may help you get started. Use the space below to organize your ideas using words and/or pictures.


Wild Words Wander through time and history to explore the idea of wilderness by reading the information in the timetable below.


Wild Words

8 (nearly 110 million acres)

Wilderness Turns 50! 1. Wild Word Scramble: Find the one bold and underlined letter in each quote, and write them here: Now unscramble the letters to form a special word in The Wilderness Act (hint: see the quote from The Wilderness Act on page 4).

2. What significant event in the history of wilderness occurred in 1964? 3. Has more wilderness been created since then? 4. How do you think society’s thoughts about wilderness have changed over time? 5. Pick a quote and explain why you agree or disagree with it. 19

Raiders of the Wild Many plants and animals have been moved from one side of the world to another for food, farming, hunting, and sometimes by accident (like hitching a ride on a boat). Some times these plants and animals (called “invasive”) escape and have big effects on natural systems and change wild places. An example is buffelgrass, a South African plant that is invading the Saguaro Wilderness. Buffelgrass easily catches fire. It pushes out the native plants including saguaro cacti. An area of buffelgrass can double every year.


S=saguaro cactus

1. Use the table below to calculate how many years it would take for buffelgrass to push out saguaro cacti in this simplified model of the ecosystem. In year 1, buffelgrass occupies one square (B) and the rest are occupied by saguaros (S). In year two, put a B in two times as many squares, and put an S in remaining squares. Continue to double the amount of buffelgrass each year. In what year is there no more room for saguaro cacti? ____________

2. Why does this matter? Ask a wilderness ranger (or check the visitor center or internet): What is the name of an invasive plant or animal that affects the wilderness you are visiting or a wild place near where you live? How does it affect the wilderness?


Answer key For these activities, there is no “right” answer. Check the ones you have completed. Page 2, Special Places Page 3, People and Wilderness Ideas Page 4, What is Wilderness? Page 8, Who Was Here Before?

Page 10, Leave No Trace Litter Pick-up Page 12-13, Be a Scientist Page 16-17, Wilderness Adventure Pages 22-23, Wild Windows

Page 5, Wilderness Safety 1. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Ten Essentials Map of the area Compass Flashlight Extra food, such as energy bar 5. Extra clothing, including rain gear 6. Sunglasses and sunscreen 7. Matches, waterproof container, fire starter 8. Pocket knife 9. First aid kit 10. Water

Page 9, Wild Word Search

2. What Else to Bring Things you might want to leave at home: TV, hair dryer, toaster, boombox, high heeled shoes. Note: It’s OK to bring a cell phone or a GPS, but do not rely on these devices for safety. There may not be coverage and/ or batteries may run down.

Page 6, Where is Wilderness? 1 and 2. It depends upon which state you pick. 3. California—149 4. CT, DE, IA, KS, MD, RI Other questions—many answers

Page 7, Are We There Yet? 5. 1200 miles ÷60 mph = 20 hours 6. Answers vary 7. New York City—Fire Island Wilderness Denver—Rawah Wilderness San Francisco—Yosemite Wilderness

Page 11, Leave No Trace Maze What was your score? 7—GREAT JOB! You are working towards leaving no trace. 8 to 12—Not bad, but please take care. 12 or more—Lighten up, you are leaving impacts. If you got a 5 on any action—YIKES! You should not be doing this. Check your answer. Ask a ranger if you have any questions.

Pages 14-16, What Can You Do in Wilderness? Everything in the picture belongs, except: road, store, jeep, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), cell tower, power line, jet ski and the mountain bike. To learn why, check the definition of Wilderness on page 4. If this is a mountain forest, the palm tree does not belong. The garden gnome? Now that’s just silly.

Pages 18-19, Wild Words 1. UNTRAMMELED 2. President Lyndon Johnson signed The Wilderness Act. 3. Yes Other question—many answers

Pages 20, Raiders of the Wild 1. The buffelgrass replaces all of the saguaro cacti in year 5. 2. Why does it matter? Loss of habitat, loss of saguaro ecosystem, fire danger increases. Other question—many answers

CREDITS: Originally produced by the National Park Service Intermountain Region, adapted by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The USDA and DOI are an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Wild Windows

Make a window frame by following the directions on the next page. Now go outside. 1. Use the window to frame a view where you can see things made by people, such as a road or a building. Draw or describe the view in box # 1 below. 2. Use the window to frame a view where you can’t see anything made by people. Draw or describe the view in box # 2 below. 1


3. In which window do you think you would be more likely to see wildlife? 4. What did you like in each window? What did you not like?


Wild Windows

Cut or tear out this post card along the dotted lines. • Use this page with the hole as a frame for the activity on page 22.

Having a Wild Time...


• Save the post card—draw a picture on the other side about your wilderness visit and mail it to a friend.


Use this cut-out for the Wild Windows activity on pages 22-23, and to make a postcard for a friend.

This booklet complements the educational materials presented in the Wilderness Investigations toolkit for teachers. This booklet is available for PDF download at www.educators.wilderness.net

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

May 2014


Wilderness Explorer - National Park Service

Forest Service U.S. Department of Agriculture National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management U.S. Department of the...

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