American society has a general cultural bias toward controlling nature (Glover 2000) and, in particular, a strong bias for suppressing wildfire, even in wilderness (Saveland et al. 1988). Nevertheless, the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy directs managers to 'allow lightning-caused fires to play, as nearly as possible, their natural ecological role in wilderness' (FWFMP 2001). Each year, however, approximately 85% of natural fire ignitions in national forest wilderness areas are suppressed (Sexton 2004). Roughly 20% of all national forest wilderness lands have been significantly altered from historical ecological conditions (Miller 2003), and the risk of losing key ecosystem components within these altered landscapes is high (Schmidt et al. 2002). Current management practices favoring suppression of natural ignitions cannot sustain the functional role of fire in wilderness areas (Cole and Landres 1996). Although concerns and issues that influence fire management decisions on U.S. federal lands have been identified (Miller and Landres 2004), to our knowledge there has not been a systematic national assessment to identify and measure Wildland Fire Use (WFU) barriers.