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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  • New Mexico Wilderness Bills Promise to Safeguard Special Lands

    Roughly 261,500 acres of rugged desert, wending canyons, wildflower fields, and toothy peaks in northern and southern New Mexico would gain the country’s highest level of public lands protection under two bills reintroduced Feb. 16 by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrats. Together, the two pieces of legislation would designate as wilderness lands that are now part of... Read More

  • On Presidents Day, a Chance to Celebrate National Monuments

    Presidents Day originated as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday, but today many Americans use the holiday to honor the lives and achievements of all of the country’s chief executives. Often, that involves visiting national monuments—special places around the country that presidents from both major political have designated using the Antiquities Act of 1906. Read More

  • Five Reasons to Protect the California Desert

    The next move in a multi-decade effort to ensure a balance between conservation and the responsible use of California’s desert is up to Congress. Last month, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act, which builds on President Barack Obama’s designation last year of three national monuments in the California desert. Read More

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Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications

202.540.6430