Protecting Public Lands

Americans share ownership of approximately 600 million acres of land and water in the United States. These "public lands" include federal designations like national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and monuments, as well as state and local areas owned by the public.

Mule Deer at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge

These often spectacular places are managed by many different federal agencies for a wide variety of purposes, but the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture bear most of the management responsibility.

What We Do to Protect Public Lands

National Wildlife Federation is committed to safeguarding these special places and other landscapes that provide habitat for wildlife and opportunities for people to recreate and reconnect with nature. Our staff works to preserve these areas for the wildlife and people who depend on them through several different campaigns and initiatives:

  • Reforming Oil and Gas Development on Public Lands

    National Wildlife Federation works to redefine how energy development should occur on public lands in order to meet our energy needs while sustaining the fish, wildlife, water resources and America's outdoor traditions. National Wildlife Federation helps lead the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition to accomplish these reforms.

  • Supporting Conservation Program Budgets and Other Conservation Tools

    National Wildlife Federation works at many levels to secure the funding for conservation tools like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the nation's premier program to acquire new places to recreate outdoors and protect crucial ecosystems.

    In tandem with advocacy to Congress, National Wildlife Federation pushes the Department of the Interior and other federal administrative agencies to implement conservation friendly policies, for example through influencing the America's Great Outdoors initiative.

  • Protecting Public Lands

    In addition to helping gain support for new public lands protections, National Wildlife Federation defends special places from fragmentation and development of all kinds. For example, National Wildlife Federation works to prevent oil and gas drilling in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    We also work to make sure important renewable energy development, such as wind and solar, is cited properly and developed in a way that sustains wildlife.

  • Reforming the 1872 Mining Law

    Recognizing that an outdated federal law is to blame for over a century of impacts from hard rock mining, National Wildlife Federation and partners in the sportsmen community have set their sights on reforming the 1872 mining law in order to strengthen protections for fish, wildlife, and water resources. See the Sportsmen United for Sensible Mining Coalition for more information.

Additional Resources

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