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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  • Obama Names Maine's Katahdin Woods and Waters a National Monument

    On this 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, President Barack Obama designated nearly 90,000 acres in the north woods of Maine the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. This majestic region, about 220 miles north of Portland, is bordered on the west by world-renowned Baxter State Park and with the branch of the Penobscot River running through its core. Read More

  • 5 Reasons to Protect the Scotchman Peaks

    The proposed 13,900-acre Scotchman Peaks Wilderness lies outside the Idaho communities of Clark Fork, Hope, and Sandpoint. Thousands of local residents have been working to safeguard this ruggedly beautiful landscape for more than a decade. They are urging Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) to introduce legislation in 2016 to conserve this wildlife and outdoor recreation haven for future generations to use... Read More

  • New Poll: Utahans Support Protections for Bears Ears Area

    Utah voters support safeguarding  the Bears Ears area in the southeastern part of the state as a national monument by a significant margin, according to a new poll by Benenson Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies.  The survey, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, found that a clear majority—55 percent—supports the idea of protecting Bears Ears as a new national... Read More

Thank President Obama for Designating Three New National Monuments

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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