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 public lands 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.

 

  • For this report, The Wilderness Society reviewed data from more than 16,000 parcels auctioned off by the state. The analysis details more than a century of land sales that have privatized and closed off an amount of once-accessible lands nearly the size of the entire Sawtooth National Forest. Parcels often end up in the hands of some of Idaho’s biggest industries, while others have been turned into gravel pits, strip malls and even exclusive private fishing retreats and lakeshore hideaways for those wealthy enough to buy them.

  • Sample Letter to IRA Adminstrator DOC

  • In this report, we provide the policy framework for designating ORV trails and areas on federal lands, along with a series of recommendations based on recent case law and ten case studies from the Forest Service, BLM, and National Park Service that demonstrate both agency failures to comply with the executive order minimization criteria and good planning practices that could be incorporated into a model for application of the criteria.