Wilderness Success Stories

Since 2002, the Campaign for America's Wilderness has worked with Congress to designate 158 new or expanded wilderness areas—adding nearly 5 million acres—to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

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California: Riverside County Wilderness

Introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act permanently protects some 190,000 acres in Riverside County as wilderness, add 31 miles of four rivers to the Wild and Scenic River System and expands by 5,000 acres the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

Some of the country's most important and well-known public lands lie within Riverside County, including Joshua Tree National Park and the North Fork San Jacinto River, along with Beauty Mountain, and Cahuilla Mountain.

California: Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness

Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness

© John Dittli

The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act was introduced by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). This legislation permanently protects more than 450,000 acres of wild mountain tops, open spaces and alpine meadows. The bill also designates 73 miles of rivers as Wild and Scenic.

From the 14,000-foot peaks in Mono County's White Mountains to the Amargosa River in Death Valley, the wilderness includes some of the region's most beloved wild gems, including the new White Mountains Wilderness and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to the world's oldest living trees.

The wilderness also includes close to 40,000 acres of wild lands in northern Los Angeles County including the Magic Mountain and Pleasant View Ridge areas and seven miles of Piru Creek.

California: The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness

© Joe Fontaine

The bipartisan Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act permanently protects almost 85,000 acres of wilderness in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, including a section named the John Krebs Wilderness, after the former Congressman and conservationist who fought to protect these lands in the Mineral King Valley.

Also protected in this area is Redwood Mountain Grove, the largest stand of Giant Sequoia within the park, as well as California's largest cave and the Old Hockett Trail. The land is home to many wild animal species, including the California spotted owl and the Golden eagle.

The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Jim Costa (D-CA) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) and in the Senate by Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion

Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness

The Rocky Mountain Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act protects as wilderness nearly 250,000 acres (94 percent) of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.

The legislation, introduced by Colorado Democrats Sen. Ken Salazar and former Rep. Mark Udall and Republicans former Sen. Wayne Allard and then Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, was shaped with the help of hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts, conservation organizations, as well as local communities and elected officials.

This bipartisan legislation protects many of the lush forested valleys, glistening lakes and rivers, alpine tundra and spectacular mountain peaks that make the Rocky Mountains a national treasure.

Wilderness protection for these areas has been a long time coming. President Richard Nixon recommended designating the undeveloped backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness in 1974.

Colorado: Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness

Dominguez Canyon Wilderness

© Mike Matz

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Rep. John Salazar (D-CO) introduced this legislation to create the approximately 200,000 acre Dominguez-Escalante Canyons National Conservation Area, including more than 66,000 acres designated as wilderness.

The conservation area is known for its redrock sandstone canyons, cliffs, streams and waterfalls, the area provides healthy habitat for desert big horn sheep, bears, deer and a variety of birds. Rock art and other artifacts from ancient native civilizations are also preserved by this legislation.


Idaho: Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands Wilderness

Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands Wilderness

© John McCarthy

Senator Mike Crapo's (R-ID) legislation permanently protects as wilderness 517,000 acres in Idaho's Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands in the southwestern corner of the state, where Oregon and Nevada meet. It creates the largest protected area in Idaho since the 1980 designation of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and provides wild and scenic status to nearly 315 miles of rivers.


Michigan: Beaver Basin Wilderness

Beaver Basin Wilderness

Courtesy NPS, Gregg Bruff

Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced the Beaver Basin Wilderness Act, which permanently protects 11,739 acres of wilderness at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, some 16 percent of the scenic national Lakeshore.

The unique and distinct landscape, located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula along the south shore of Lake Superior, highlights the beautiful backdrop of the Great Lakes. Several miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail run through this area.


New Mexico: Sabinoso Wilderness

Sabinoso Wilderness

Courtesy NMWA

The Sabinoso Wilderness Act, introduced by former Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM), designates more than 15,000 acres in San Miguel County as wilderness.

Under the legislation, the Sabinoso Bureau of Land Management land unit, about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, NM and 25 miles northwest of Conchas Dam State Park, are permanently protected under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Included in the wilderness are lands in and around the Sabinoso Wilderness Study Area.

Oregon: Copper Salmon Wilderness

Some of the healthiest wild chinook and steelhead runs on the west coast are now permanently protected. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Peter De-Fazio (D-OR) introduced legislation to designate as wilderness the Copper Salmon region of Southern Oregon.

The Copper Salmon Wilderness Act protects 13,700 acres of pristine old-growth forest surrounding the headwaters of the Elk River in the Siskiyou National Forest. This largely intact ancient forest features giant Douglas fir trees and endangered Port-Orford cedar.

The permanent protection of Copper Salmon as wilderness provides a boost to the local economy through increased tourism and outdoor recreation, and helps guard against logging and development that could harm the health of the Elk River.

Oregon: Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness

Conservationists, community leaders, hunters and anglers are glad for the permanent protection of 128,600 acres of national forest on Mount Hood. Nearly 80 miles of river are also protected under the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The wild lands in the wilderness are a vital source of clean drinking water for Oregonians, home to many indigenous plant and animal species, and popular recreation areas that contribute greatly to the health of the economy.

The Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act was introduced by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR).

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Darlene Hooley (D-OR), and David Wu (D-OR) introduced similar legislation, which designates approximately 132,000 acres of wilderness in the Mount Hood National Forest.

Oregon: Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Wilderness

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Wilderness

© Dave Willis

Introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act permanently protects 23,000 acres of Southeastern Oregon's wild land as the Soda Mountain Wilderness.

Located at the convergence of the state's eastern deserts and its lush fir forests, the Soda Mountain region is a part of the 53,000 acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

The monument was originally established in 2000, as a means of protecting the land's remarkable biodiversity and natural resources. While this initial classification was meant to prevent future development, it provided limited protection from commercial logging and no defense against damaging off-road vehicle use.

Oregon: Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Courtesy ONDA

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Spring Basin Wilderness Act. This bill permanently protects 8,600 acres of wilderness overlooking the John Day Wild and Scenic River.

Rolling hills, blooming wildflower meadows and big sagebrush characterize this area. It is also an important habitat for populations of Mule Deer and Rocky Mountain Elk, as well as many bird species.

This unique wild area also provides many recreation opportunities for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, botanists, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Oregon: Badlands Wilderness

Badlands Wilderness

© Greg Burke

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act. This bill permanently protects nearly 31,000 acres of wilderness in the Badlands just east of Bend.

The Badlands area features ancient junipers, dry river canyons, Native America pictographs, and castle-like rock formations. Desert wildflowers bloom in abundance in this area.

Volunteers worked for over a decade to protect the Badlands as wilderness. This bill was backed by a local rancher, recreation and conservation groups, and almost 200 local businesses to become Central Oregon's first desert wilderness.

Utah: Washington County Wilderness

Legislation aimed at resolving longstanding land management issues in Washington County, Utah, was introduced by Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT).

The Washington County Growth & Conservation Act, among other provisions, protects nearly 256,000 acres of wilderness in the county, including such special places as Canaan Mountain, Red Mountain, Doc's Pass, and Cougar Canyon. The Act also establishes the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas, and safeguards more than 160 miles of the Virgin River in and around Zion National Park — the lifeline of this desert habitat.

Virginia: Ridge and Valley Wilderness

Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced this bill to protect 55,000 acres in the Jefferson National Forest as wilderness, wilderness study or national scenic areas (43,000 acres will be wilderness).

Parts of the Appalachian Trail run through this area, which offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge, covered by old-growth trees and incised by clear streams. Rock outcrops formed in the last Ice Age can also be found here.

Tourism is important to the regional economy, and this measure enjoyed strong local support. The protections in this bill ensure that the area remains pristine and continues to draw anglers, hunters, climbers, and outdoorsmen for generations to come.

Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and then Sen. John Warner (R-VA) introduced a companion bill.

West Virginia: Wild Monongahela Wilderness

Wild Monongahela Wilderness

© Jonathan Jessup

The Wild Monongahela Act was introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV). Representatives Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Alan Mollohan (D-WV) co-sponsored the bill, and companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

The bill designates 37,000 acres of wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest, expanding three existing wilderness areas, Cranberry, Dolly Sods and Otter Creek and creating three new wilderness areas: Big Draft, Roaring Plains west and Spice Run. It became the first new wilderness in the state in 25 years.

The wilderness areas contain some of the greatest hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, and birding in the state.


Washington: Wild Sky

Lake Valhalla viewed from Mt. McCausland

© Harry Romberg

Protects 106,577 acres of national forest roadless lands in Washington. A little more than an hour from downtown Seattle, the Wild Sky is a rugged landscape with thousand foot cliffs, high alpine peaks, breathtaking waterfalls, lush old-growth forests and crystal clear rivers, and more than 25 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning streams. The Wild Sky Wilderness also includes mature second growth forests that were railroad logged in the 1920s and 1930s, but have naturally regenerated to become diverse forests of Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock, maple and cottonwood. These lands are home to mountain goats, spotted owls and bears.

Introduced by Washington Senators Patty Murray (D) and Maria Cantwell (D) and Washington Representatives Rick Larsen (D) and Jay Inslee (D).


California: Northern Coastal Wildlands

Northern Coastal Wildlands

© Bob Wick

Protects 273,000 acres and 21 miles of rivers in the northwest part of the state. Rising from the ocean to ancient forests of Douglas fir and incense cedar, the wild lands are the home of an unusually large wintering bald eagle population, as well as endangered species that include the California brown pelican, the peregrine falcon, and Roosevelt elk.

Introduced by California Representative Mike Thompson (D) and Senators Boxer (D) and Feinstein (D)


Nevada: White Pine County

White Pine County

© Scott Smith

Protects 558,000 acres of the wildest, most rugged and most beautiful landscapes in eastern Nevada, including Baldy Peak, Goshute Canyon, Becky Peak, and the South Egan, High Schells, and Shellback mountain ranges, including more than 100,000 acres of mountain peaks, steep canyons, and aspen forests.

Introduced by Nevada Senators John Ensign (R) and Harry Reid (D).



New England: New England Wilderness

Protects as wilderness 34,500 acres in the Sandwich Range and Wild River region of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest- home to moose, spruce grouse, migratory songbirds, coyotes, fisher, beaver, and deer-and 41,652 acres in Vermont's Green Mountain National Forest, including the spectacular Glastenbury Mountain with its massive and wild ridgeline.

Introduced by Senators John Sununu (R-NH) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) (S. 2463), Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (S. 2565/H.R. 5157), and Representatives Jeb Bradley (R-NH) (H.R. 5062) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) (H.R. 5059).

Utah: Cedar Mountains Wilderness

Cedar Mountains Wilderness

© Ray Bloxham

Protects 100,000 acres of rolling hills, mountains that rise to 7,700 feet, juniper woodlands, and rugged limestone outcrops west of Salt Lake City. The area is home to American eagles, prairie falcons, the occasional mountain lion, deer, and antelope.

Sponsored by Utah Representative Rob Bishop (R).



New Mexico: Ojito Wilderness

Ojito Wilderness

© Martin Heinrich

Ensures protection for 11,000 acres of blush-colored desert canyon lands in northwestern New Mexico, characterized by steep sided mesas, remote box canyons, deep arroyos, and historic religious sites of the Zia and Santa Ana Pueblos.

Sponsored by New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman (D) and Pete Domenici (R), and Representatives Tom Udall (D) and Heather Wilson (R).



Puerto Rico: El Toro Wilderness

El Toro Wilderness

Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

Protects one-third of the Caribbean National Forest in a 10,000-acre wilderness that embraces the only tropical rain forest in America's national forest system. The forest is home to the rare Puerto Rican parrot.

Sponsored by New York Senators Hillary Clinton (D) and Charles Schumer (D) and Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño (R).



Nevada: Lincoln County

Lincoln County

© Woods Wheatcroft

Protects 14 new wilderness areas, totaling more than 768,000 acres in Lincoln County, Nevada. The area includes the steep and rocky terrain of the Delamar Mountains and Parsnip Peak's prehistoric rock rings, rock shelters and rock art. A variety of raptors can be found here, including the southern spotted owl, mountain plover, and the western yellow-billed cuckoo.


Wisconsin: Gaylord A. Nelson Wilderness

Gaylord A. Nelson Wilderness

Courtesy Wilderness.net

Grants greater protection to 35,000 acres of wild land on the waters of Lake Superior within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Known as the ancestral home of the Ojibwa people, the new wilderness includes a series of islands with remarkable cliff formations, sea caves, and some of the most pristine sandscapes remaining in the Great Lakes region.



California: Big Sur Region

Big Sur Region

© Jim Rose

Expands the Ventana Wilderness by 37,000 acres and the Silver Peak Wilderness by 8,000 acres to protect a highly diverse coastal ecosystem that features ruggedly beautiful mountains characterized by steep-sided, sharp-crested ridges and craggy peaks falling into V-shaped valleys.





Colorado: James Peak Wilderness

James Peak Wilderness

© Jeff Widen

Protects 14,000 acres of national forest on the east side of the Continental Divide in mountains that range in elevation from 9,200 to 13,294 feet and that include upper montane, sub-alpine, and alpine ecosystems. The area includes James Peak, named for explorer, historian, and botanist Edwin James, a member of the 1820 Stephen H. Long expedition to Colorado.





Nevada: Clark County

Clark County

© Howard Booth

Designates 440,000 acres of public lands as wilderness in southern Nevada's Clark County, permanently protecting areas that encompass the snowy summits of the Spring Mountains, the deep shadows of Arrow Canyon, the Joshua tree forests of the McCullough region, and southern Nevada's Mojave Desert.