Hot Issues

Wilderness can’t protect itself. That’s why it’s important to know the issues — from managing roads and building trails in national forests to steering energy projects away from sensitive places.

At Wilderness, we use a blend of policy, partnerships and science to address important issues affecting designated wilderness and other wildlands. Our policy work focuses on the following areas:

Wilderness designation

Using the Wilderness Act, Congress is able to designate new public lands as wilderness. A mere 5 percent of the U.S. is designated wilderness — roughly 110 million acres. We need to protect millions of acres more.

Monument designation

The president can designate public lands as national monuments using the Antiquities Act. When a wildland receives monument designation, it also gains new protections against development and other threats.

National forests

National forests are a vital part of America’s public land system. So much of what makes our country special would vanish without them.

Public lands

Our public lands face many threats —energy development, off-road vehicle use and other development activities. At Wilderness, we work with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies to balance how we use and protect public lands.

Oil and gas

Much of the oil and gas produced in the United States comes from public lands. Our work helps to protect these lands from further harmful development of fossil fuels.

Renewable energy

Clean energy sources like wind and solar can help us reduce climate change, but can harm wildlife and wildlands if not sited carefully.

Conservation funding

When funding exists for important conservation projects, there’s a better chance that wilderness is protected, studied and managed well.

Outdoor recreation

Millions of Americans enjoy recreation on our public lands each year. It’s important to balance opening wildlands to recreation opportunities while also protecting them from harm.


  • Map and infographics showing the region of the plan, what matters in the Pacific Northwestt (1), what people want in a Northwest Forest Plan (2) and what most voters support in a revised Northwest Forest plan (3). A two page summary of the polls results is below the map and infographics.

  • statewide survey of 600 registered voters in Washington, Oregon and California, with an additional oversample of 200 registered voters in California counties, was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers, including 45% of all interviews conducted via cell phone.

  • “We Can’t Wait: Why we need reform of the federal coal program now,” shows how the industry has been passing on millions in costs every day to the public. The status quo of the program has impacted public lands to the tune of billions of dollars and could multiply if coal companies aren’t held responsible for cleanup as they go bankrupt. Damages due to climate change from mining emissions will cost billions and drinking water for entire cities could be lost to mining or polluted beyond safe drinking levels.