America's Wilderness

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Pew's work to protect America's public lands is designed to preserve the most important and unspoiled wild places for future generations to enjoy.

The idea of untouched wilderness is at the core of the American experience. Wild places offer opportunity for recreation and reflection, and represent our legacy to future generations. Only 2.5 percent of our federal public land outside of Alaska is permanently protected as wilderness — free of roads and industrial development and forever available for hiking, hunting, fishing and other pursuits. Many of these places are watersheds needing protection for clean water.  Pristine forests enhance clean air and act as carbon sinks.  Wilderness provides refuge for many threatened and endangered species and serves as valuable storehouses of biodiversity.

Since 2000, The Pew Charitable Trust has focused on achieving lasting protection for threatened wild lands held in public trust by the Federal government. We proactively work to preserve some of the nation's last, best, wild places by adding them to the National Wilderness Preservation System and through other protective designations, such as National Monuments. We provide local public lands protection advocates with expertise in campaign planning and implementation and assist with opinion research, communications and advocacy. The Pew U.S. Public Lands team partners with state coalitions and local citizen groups to support citizen wilderness proposals from every part of the country.

Our Work

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  • 16 U.S. Public Lands to Protect in 2016

    Congress plans to be in session for only about 111 days this election year, so members will need to work quickly and effectively to pass some of the many proposed land protections. Because there’s nothing like a deadline to focus our efforts, we’ve identified 16 areas ripe for congressional or administrative action before the end of this year—our 16 in ’16. Read More

  • California Desert: "This Is Mother Nature"

    The California desert is "something different from the rest of the world," says student Patrick Jones. "This is Mother Nature and taking it away is destroying Mother Nature. And we already do enough of that." Californians and other Americans—as well as visitors from all over the world—have long been drawn to the California desert's painted mountains, diverse wildlife, Native American... Read More

  • California Desert Monuments Would Be "History to Hold Onto"

    Safeguarding the California desert not only preserves one of the most unique and pristine places in the country, it provides a lasting legacy for the local community. Californians and other Americans—as well as visitors from all over the world—have long been drawn to the California desert's painted mountains, diverse wildlife, Native American petroglyphs, and rich history. Read More

Related Resource

Wilderness and National Monument Legislation in the 114th Congress

Areas Under Consideration for Protection From Oregon to Tennessee

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Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications

202.540.6430