Officials of Ashley and Wasatch-Cache national forests have begun a five-year study of the High Uintas Wilderness to determine whether access to the protected area should be limited or allowed to expand.

The so-called "limits of acceptable change process is a nine-step decision-making tool which establishes acceptable and appropriate resource and social conditions that should exist in a particular wilderness," said ranger Clark Tucker.The federal agency's traditional approach to managing wilderness areas has been one of attempting to prevent human-induced change.

Under the switch, Tucker said, the Forest Service looks at how it can maintain or restore the "naturalness and solitude qualities" in a wilderness area by deciding how much change will be allowed to occur and where.

The process, he said, "reformulates the carrying capacity concept from that of how much human and animal use an area can tolerate to one where the primary emphasis is on the condition desired in the area from both a resource and social perspective."