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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  • 7 Reasons to Celebrate National Public Lands Day

    From centuries-old redwood forests to panoramic deserts and Arctic tundra, America’s public lands are among the most beautiful and diverse in the world. They filter our air, preserve clean drinking water, and provide vital habitat for bears, birds, salamanders, and many other species. As President Teddy Roosevelt noted, “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever... Read More

  • National Monuments Offer President a Chance to Build a Conservation Legacy

    In April, President Donald Trump directed the Department of the Interior to review 27 national monuments, designated since 1996, for possible reduction or elimination. During the 120-day review, the department announced that it would recommend no changes for six of them.  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was expected to publicly reveal in late August his recommendations for the remaining 21... Read More

  • 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

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Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications