Defenders works to protect entire networks of federal lands and waters in the United States. Our public lands and waters are essential to wildlife conservation.

The National Wildlife Refuge System provides habitat for more than 8,000 species, including over 380 species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

National forests and grasslands, comprising 193 million acres of the National Forest System, are strongholds for imperiled species, including more than 470 federally protected plants and animals.

Bureau of Land Management is responsible for more than 258 million acres of public lands, including vast deserts, grasslands, shrublands, western forests, wetlands and Arctic wilderness, that host a stunning diversity of wildlife and 480 ESA-listed species.

Finally, spanning 84 million acres and 3,095 miles of coastline, the National Park System is home to almost 5,400 species of vertebrate species, enjoyed by visitors from around the world. 

Defenders' Impact

Our experts aim to improve habitat conditions and reduce threats to endangered, threatened and other sensitive species on federal public lands and waters by leveraging conservation provisions in laws and regulations to protect species in planning, resource management and policy development.

Our strategy is national and multi-faceted. At the national level, we press for progressive policies and fight legislative and administrative threats to the existing legal and regulatory framework that is critical to species conservation.

We also engage at the regional and local levels, participating in land management planning on national forests, grasslands and refuges, fighting threats such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to dirty energy exploration and drilling, filing BLM oil and gas lease sale protests, and minimizing threatened and endangered species habitat degradation and destruction from development, land use and incompatible activities.

We also advocate every year in the federal appropriations process for increased funding to protect species and their habitat across all four federal lands systems. 

Wildlife and Wild Places

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