Wilderness Designation

Congress can give public lands permanent protection by designating them as wilderness. A wilderness designation helps ensure treasured lands from coast to coast are protected for future generations.

Wilderness designation is the highest form of protection the government can give to a public land. No roads, vehicles or permanent structures are allowed in designated wilderness. A wilderness designation also prohibits activities like logging or mining.

Wilderness is designated through wilderness bills and through local, on-the-ground campaigns. The revolutionary Wilderness Act, introduced in 1964, gives Congress the power to protect a public land with a wilderness designation.

Video: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

What is wilderness

Wilderness belongs to us. Protected wilderness has no roads, no development — it is our last unspoiled, natural refuge from the urban world. It’s our job to make sure wilderness thrives for generations to come.

Why protect wilderness

Since the Wilderness Act passed in 1964, Congress has designated nearly 110 million acres of federal wildlands as official wilderness. Official wilderness has the highest form of protection of any federal wildland.

How we designate wilderness

We work with local grassroots coalitions on campaigns to build support for wilderness and other conservation designations, both on the local and congressional levels.

Issues and threats

There are persistent issues and threats related to wilderness, from fires to grazing. Because these issues each impact wilderness differently, they require individual analysis and attention.

Current campaigns and legislation

Every year, new and existing wilderness designation campaigns emerge to protect America’s treasured wildlands.

Wilderness Act

The revolutionary 1964 Wilderness Act gave Congress the power to permanently protect public lands as wilderness.

Wilderness Designation FAQs

Want to know more about wilderness? Check out our Wilderness FAQs.

  • Neil Shader

    A report on landscape-based mitigation released by the Interior Department Energy and Climate Change Task Force, “A Strategy for Improving the Mitigation Policies and Practices of The Department of the Interior,”  provides a blueprint for better protection for fish, wildlife, recreation and wild land values for the tens of millions of acres of public lands open to oil and gas and other energy development.

  • Michael Reinemer

    This weekend, veterans from around the West will be visiting the rolling, boulder-strewn landscape of the Dragoon Mountains south of Tucson to participate in a writing workshop that will guide them on skills needed to create narratives of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry that is informed both by their service experiences and the natural environment.

  • Neil Shader

    The following statement on the confirmation of Neil Kornze to be the Director of the Bureau of Land Management can be attributed to Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society.