Wilderness Benefits

Wilderness Benefits are Rooted in Wilderness Character

The National Wilderness Preservation System protects over 111 million acres of federal public land through wilderness designation, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service. The NPS is responsible for the stewardship of over 44 million acres of designated wilderness. When combined with other NPS lands managed as wilderness per policy, over 80 percent of all NPS lands are managed as wilderness.

So why is wilderness necessary if national parks are already “protected”? While wilderness often amplifies existing benefits of national parks, wilderness also offers diverse and distinct social, cultural, and ecological benefits rooted in wilderness character preservation. This holistic concept protects the biophysical environment, personal experiences, and symbolic meanings that collectively distinguish wilderness from general backcountry and frontcountry areas on federal lands.

Collage of images featuring people in different wilderness areas.
Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area (NPS), Hain Wilderness (Gavin Emmons), Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness (Mike Halpert), Shenandoah Wilderness (NPS), Channel Islands proposed potential wilderness (Alexander Prins), Glacier Bay Wilderness (NPS/Adrienne Lindholm), and Grand Canyon proposed wilderness (NPS/Alicia Burton)

Wilderness Benefits

"For the permanent good of the whole people..."

The Wilderness Act states that the National Wilderness Preservation System was created “for the permanent good of the whole people.” This means wilderness has the potential to be of lasting beneft to everyone. What makes you feel connected to wilderness? Through these connections, we can help sustain the benefts of wilderness for the whole people.

Last updated: November 2, 2023