U.S. Public Lands Conservation

Copy the URL for use in an RSS reader:
Our wild lands are at the core of the American experience. Wild places offer opportunities for recreation and reflection, and represent our legacy for future generations. Of the 2.27 billion acres in the United States, nearly 27 percent is held in trust for the American people and administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.

Our wild lands are at the core of the American experience. Wild places offer opportunities for recreation and reflection, and represent our legacy for future generations. Of the 2.27 billion acres in the United States, nearly 27 percent is held in trust for the American people and administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. Each of these agencies manages the land entrusted to it for multiple purposes, usually related to conservation, recreation, and natural resource development. At a time when America’s public lands are threatened as never before by encroaching development, our challenge is how to balance these uses to best serve the American people.

Since 1990, The Pew Charitable Trusts has worked with local partners to increase the portion of public land in the United States that is conserved through legislation, administrative action, or presidential authority. Recent actions include administrative protections for spectacular wild lands in Alaska, parts of the California desert, the western habitat of greater sage-grouse, and biologically important areas along the Colorado River. Pew’s efforts also include the protection of landscapes from Maine to California through national monument status, as well as congressionally designated wilderness—our highest level of land protection—in Nevada’s White Pine County, Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds, and California’s Eastern Sierra areas.

Current efforts aim to administratively safeguard unspoiled land in Alaska’s western and central Interior regions, including the watersheds of the state’s two longest rivers; conserve large landscapes in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada; advance wilderness legislation for areas in a number of states, including California, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and Tennessee; increase protection for wilderness-quality lands included in management plans for national forests in Idaho, Montana, and North Carolina; defend recently created national monuments; and maintain the Antiquities Act, the landmark conservation law that grants presidents the authority to designate national monuments.

In the spirit of President Theodore Roosevelt, who spoke of “the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us,” Pew’s work to protect America’s public lands is designed to safeguard the most important and unspoiled wild places for future generations to enjoy.

Our Work

  • Bill Would Protect Outdoor Recreation Haven in Utah

    The evolution of Emery County, Utah, into a world-class outdoor recreation destination may not have started 150 million years ago, when the landscape teemed with Jurassic-era giants, but the raw material for the transformation was in place. After millennia shaped the slot canyons, hoodoos, buttes, and streambeds, and after archaic and pre-Columbian cultures etched their pictographs and... Read More

  • Local Input Must Guide Congress on Wilderness Study Areas

    Several bills pending in Congress attempt to eliminate WSAs by dealing only with one side of that equation. These measures would release entire areas from their protected status, opening them to development with no consideration of protecting the places within those boundaries that warrant conservation. Such a determination ignores the importance of wildlife habitat, water quality, and quiet... Read More

  • Conservation of Public Lands Helps Small Businesses Thrive

    A key element of the growing outdoor recreation economy—which accounts for $887 billion in annual consumer spending and supports 7.6 million jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association—are small businesses, especially those that operate in the gateway communities around public lands. Sure, online shopping is convenient, but it’s to a local business that most visitors... Read More

Fast Facts About BLM Lands

What you need to know about the biggest caretaker of your land

Read More

Media Contact

Susan Whitmore

Director, Communications

202.540.6430