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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  • On Capitol Hill, a Whirlwind of Activity Before the Recess

    The breadth and diversity of those who seek to protect our nation’s public lands was on full display last month as local elected officials, business owners, representatives of faith-based and Latino organizations, veterans, Native Americans, and other advocates came to the nation’s capital to speak with their elected leaders on behalf of cherished public lands and rivers back home. Read More

  • 5 Reasons to Protect Colorado’s Continental Divide

    Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s ski country lies the state’s Continental Divide—a haven for outdoor recreation and wildlife. The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act (H.R. 2554), introduced by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), will safeguard roughly 58,000 acres of the White River National Forest as wilderness and other designations. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)... Read More

  • Maine Woods: A Monument Thoreau Would Admire

    Three hours north of Portland, Maine, lies approximately 87,000 acres of pristine land known as the “North Woods.” This land is currently owned by a private foundation who wishes to donate this special place for the establishment of a national monument.  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