America's Wilderness

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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  • Gold Butte: Nevada’s Piece of the Grand Canyon

    Gold Butte—tucked between the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona and Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada—is named for the historic mining town of the early 1900s. However, this piece of the Mojave Desert is much more than the scattered remnants of early mining. It is 350,000 acres of mountains, Joshua trees and Mojave yucca forests, panels of petroglyphs, and... Read More

  • California's Desert Is at Risk

    Southern California’s desert region has been virtually undisturbed for thousands of years. Visitors expecting an arid and empty landscape may be surprised by its cool mountain streams, migrating wildlife, and historic trails.  The California Desert Protection Act, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014, safeguarded 8.6 million acres of desert lands by expanding and... Read More

  • Reaching Into the Toolbox to Protect Public Land

    Before adjourning for the year, Congress passed a collection of six wilderness bills and sent them to the president's desk to be signed into law. Read More

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

San Gabriel Mountains

Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications