The Wilderness Act of 1964 described wilderness 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."
“Untrammeled” indicates that people can “trammel,” they can severely impact land and natural processes. In wilderness, the law intends for human impacts to be minimized. The term “visitor” and criteria for designating wilderness also included in the Act (e.g. “outstanding opportunities for solitude” and “primitive and unconfined … recreation”) indicate that wilderness offers something unique for human experience and maybe infers people need to visit wilderness in order to keep perspective.
To us, these terms in the Wilderness Act balance the concept of protecting the wilderness with the need to maximize wilderness user experience.
(For full text of the Act see http://www.wilderness.net/nwps/legisact for download copy)
We recently weighed in on wilderness management/ research in a commentary at: (May be slow to load)