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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  • National Monuments Protect America’s Heritage—and Economy

    In early June, as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was reviewing 27 national monuments for possible shrinkage or elimination, I had the chance to visit one of them—the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, which The Pew Charitable Trusts’ lands team had worked for many years to protect. Designated in 2013, this area in northern New Mexico is a remarkable place of volcanic cones,... Read More

  • Why Our Large-Scale National Monuments Should Stay Intact

    The public comment period on 22 national land monuments proposed for possible modification or elimination has ended. Now Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has the task of weighing the enormous outpouring of submissions as he considers his recommendations to President Donald J. Trump, expected by the end of August. Read More

  • America’s National Monuments

    On April 26, President Donald Trump directed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments designated since 1996 that span at least 100,000 acres for possible revision or elimination. Monument supporters submitted more than 2 million comments and turned out in person during Secretary Zinke’s tour of selected sites. Recommendations for all 27 monuments under review are due to... Read More

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Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications

202.540.6430