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.


  • Jennifer Dickson

    Today, the Trump administration’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned off parcels of federal public lands in southeastern Utah’s spectacular redrock country for oil and gas leasing and development. Included in BLM’s lease sale are approximately 54,000 acres of public lands near Bears Ears, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients National Monuments, as well as in the culturally rich Alkali Ridge area of critical environmental concern and along the Green and San Juan rivers.

  • Andrea Alday

    Unfortunately, BLM’s latest draft closely mirrors prior attempts that a federal court found illegal. The draft plan once again inadequately protects areas with high conservation and cultural values and prioritizes off-road vehicles over other uses. It appears the agency has struck out when it comes to honoring its legal obligation to protect irreplaceable resources in the desert.

  • Michael Reinemer

    The Wilderness Society will host a discussion for journalists working on energy, environment and climate issues on March 20 at the National Press Club. Panelists will focus on developments and trends from the last year and what that may portend for the year ahead.