Federal Lands conservation is essential to Defenders’ mission to protect native wildlife and their habitats across the United States. Roughly 30% of U.S. lands are managed by four federal agencies: Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Encompassing over 600 million acres, these federal lands are home to hundreds of animals and plants listed as threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act.


Who We Are

Defenders’ Federal Lands team influences decision-making and planning to assure adequate protections for listed species. We promote proposals that help at-risk species. For example, we are campaigning for more National Wildlife Refuges and new conservation areas where at-risk species live. We also oppose proposals that will further endanger species such as oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to, for example, polar bears and Steller’s eiders, and the Sagebrush Sea where the iconic greater sage grouse, Brewer’s sparrows, sage thrashers, pronghorn and hundreds of other at-risk species reside.

What We Do

We advocate for the conservation and recovery of at-risk wildlife and plants and the native habitats on which they depend across the federal estate. At-risk species are plants and animals that are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act like the grizzly bear, Gunnison sage-grouse and the Mexican gray wolf, and that are not listed yet experiencing concerning declines. Over 600 native species have a significant amount of their range on federal lands, which means that decisions that the federal government makes influences whether they continue toward extinction or recover to sustainable levels.

The National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Campaign is an example of one of our current initiatives.

See our report on Tackling the Extinction Crisis: Increasing Appropriations to the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to Save Endangered Wildlife.

Amplifying the Public Voice

Our nation’s federal lands belong to us all. Defenders of Wildlife advocates for public processes that generate inclusive conservation action both locally and nationally. The public’s voice is essential for steering management of humans and wildlife on public lands and their intersections. Individuals and communities can participate in planning and policymaking through a variety of means, including decisions made through National Environmental Policy Act processes.

Wildlife and Wild Places

Canada lynx
Northern Lights Over Brooks Range Alaska
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