Defending Wilderness Campaign Share
Keeping it Wild!
Defending individual Wildernesses and the Wilderness Act on the ground, in the courts, through national policies, congressional oversight, and providing technical assistance to citizens' Wilderness defense efforts.
The purpose of Wilderness Watch's Wilderness Defense Campaign is to protect individual Wildernesses from harm, promote effective federal policies at the national level, and permanently preserve the integrity and wilderness character of the National Wilderness Preservation System as a whole. Our Wilderness Defense Campaign is at the heart of Wilderness Watch's work. In addition to protecting the biophysical components of Wilderness, we strive to permanently protect the qualities and values that define Wilderness and make it unique.
With passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 Congress established a National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) comprised of special places set apart to forever remain in contrast to those areas where the activities, technologies, and developments of modern civilization shape and dominate the landscape. In this way, Wilderness is more than just a geographic location, it encompasses certain values that we as a society have chosen to protect.
While designation is an important first step toward protecting Wilderness, it takes ongoing citizen vigilance to assure that the purpose and intent of the Wilderness Act are realized 'on-the-ground' after designation.
Unfortunately, despite the clear intent of Congress and the American people to preserve an enduring resource of Wilderness, the quality of our Wilderness System is deteriorating. Despite the growth in size of our NWPS, the reality of authentic Wilderness is in danger of disappearing from our culture. As time passes we are losing the cultural and institutional support (Congress, federal agencies, and conservationists) for the unique qualities and values of wild, undeveloped, non-motorized Wilderness as envisioned by the Wilderness Act.
Today, Wilderness suffers from a lack of congressional oversight at a time when the harms occurring to designated Wilderness are escalating, and organized efforts by various special interests are underway to weaken the definition and protections of Wilderness. These harms are compounded by a limited awareness among conservationists and the general public regarding the extent of the harm taking place throughout the Wilderness System, by limited commitment to Wilderness within the land management agencies, by short-sighted, uninformed political deals that undercut wilderness protections, and the proliferation of wilderness-weakening provisions in new legislation that undermine the Wilderness Act and diminish the integrity of Wilderness.
The result is that widespread motorized activities are becoming routine in Wilderness, along with a proliferation of structures and other developments for administrative and recreational convenience and research use. Many Wildernesses are impacted by unregulated use pressures, displaced and intensively manipulated wildlife, and a growing bias in favor of economic interests at the expense of Wilderness.
Wilderness Watch’s vision is to invigorate a national recommitment to preserving the character and authenticity of designated Wilderness so that each new generation will have opportunities to experience and enjoy the unique benefits that genuine Wilderness provides, as intended by the Wilderness Act.