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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  • Public Lands Initiative is successfully building a lasting plan

    “More than two years ago, two Utah congressmen, Republicans Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz — working closely with Gov. Gary Herbert — launched the Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI), aimed at ending three decades of uncertainty over whether to protect or develop public lands in eastern Utah. Read More

  • Protecting the Places Where We Play

    Across the country this summer, outdoor recreationists and other advocates for public lands are taking part in the #LiveMonumental campaign to protect five special places that epitomize our shared natural heritage – Gold Butte in Nevada, Boulder-White Clouds in Idaho, the Owyhee Canyonlands in Oregon, Mojave Trails in California, and the Birthplace of Rivers in West Virginia. Your... Read More

  • Boulder-White Clouds Win: Idaho ‘Gem’ Protected as Wilderness

    Central Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds region was once among the largest unprotected wild places in the Lower 48 states. But now—thanks to legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama on Aug. 7—Boulder-White Clouds is safeguarded as wilderness, the strongest protection available for a national landscape. Read More

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

San Gabriel Mountains

Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications