Our parks and trails network

Mason Cummings, The Wilderness Society

Outdoor recreation should be accessible and sustainable.

Outdoor recreation is integral to our nation’s relationship with nature, and more important than ever in an age of smartphones and big public health concerns.

We work on increasing opportunities to camp, climb, paddle and otherwise play outside, as well as advocating policies that keep public lands, our prime outdoor recreation spots, intact, accessible and well-maintained.  

This work takes place in many forms and on many fronts. On the big-picture scale, we champion increased access for outdoor leaders who take people out on public lands, as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which helps improve access across the country and makes parks “whole.” Other key projects include support of conservation corps programs that put volunteers to work maintaining (often neglected) trails and various measures to expand access for human-powered recreation on our public lands.


Why this issue matters

Americans don’t get outside as much as they used to, to the detriment of their physical health, mental wellbeing and general connection with nature. Expanding access to outdoor recreation and taking care of the public lands and waters benefits people and contributes to the economy.

$887 billion generated by outdoor recreation
annually across the U.S.
78,000 miles of trails
in America's national scenic, recreation, historic and and converted rail trail systems.
$300 million maintenance backlog
on trails in national forests and grasslands, one of the most widely used trail networks on earth.
45,000 national, state and local park projects
paid for by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which creates and protects parks at no expense to taxpayers.

What we're doing

  1. Boosting recreation

    We advocate for public land management policies that specifically prioritize and maximize outdoor recreation opportunities.

  2. Encouraging sustainable access

    We encourage greater access to public lands for human-powered outdoor recreation while keeping wilderness areas protected as-is. At the same time, we advocate for opportunities for mountain biking and other activities in other, less sensitive areas.

  3. Working to fund parks

    We advocate to keep authorized in law and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which pays for completing and creating parks, open spaces and local recreation projects without burdening taxpayers.

  4. Helping outdoor guides

    We support legislation that increases access for guides and other outdoor leaders who take people out on public lands.

What you can do

Join our WildAlert list for opportunities to tell elected officials that our wildlands deserve protection.