Future Wilderness

Bodie Hills
Bob Wick, BLM
Millions of acres of public lands can “grow up” to be wilderness, monuments or other forms of protected lands. We have the opportunity to protect and enjoy them now.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and people throughout the West identify lands that qualify for wilderness designation. It’s up to the BLM to decide if and how to protect them. We push the BLM to make the right decisions for these wild places.

Millions of acres on our public lands can “grow up” to be wilderness; we can protect and enjoy them now.

Wilderness is one of the many land uses that the BLM is required to inventory and manage – but it’s fragile and quickly disappearing. Citizens and the BLM have found millions of acres that qualify for wilderness designation or other special management. These areas also face constant pressure from the oil and gas industry and off-road vehicle enthusiasts who want to see them open to development.

In land use plans, the BLM can safeguard future wilderness from threats like oil and gas development and irresponsible off roaders. Such action immediately protects these areas and gives communities and Congress time to formulate a plan for permanent protection.

The BLM has two main designations for protecting wilderness quality lands:

  • Wilderness Study Areas: BLM used to designate public lands as wilderness study areas to protect potential wilderness until Congress decided whether to designate the areas as wilderness. The BLM gave up its authority to name lands wilderness study areas in 2003, but existing wilderness study areas are protected.
  • Lands with Wilderness Characteristics: In lieu of wilderness study areas, the BLM now tracks lands with wilderness characteristics and considers protecting them in land use plans. Protecting these wild places ensures people can continue to enjoy hiking, rafting and hunting in wilderness and gives these lands a chance at permanent protection.