The Sonoran Desert Heritage campaign involves a wide variety of stakeholders united to ensure that wild land opportunities are part of every visitor’s experience to western Maricopa County and the spectacular Sonoran Desert — through a variety of conservation designations that include wilderness.
The Wilderness Act of 1964 created America’s National Wilderness Preservation System to allow Congress to designate certain public lands as wilderness areas "for preservation and protection in their natural condition." Lands that qualify for such protection are some of the finest in the world, and already belong to the American people. From well-known icons to hidden gems, these lands provide us all with clean air and water; abundant wildlife; havens for recreation, learning, and solitude; and features that are a foundation for a healthy planet. They are also important sources of renewable energy and vital natural resources that must be managed wisely. Learn more about the National Wilderness Preservation System and any of the more than 677 wilderness areas it protects at Wilderness.net.
Arizona has a rich conservation history, with leaders like former Congressman Morris K. Udall (D), Senator Barry Goldwater (R) and current Senator John McCain (R), who collaborated to craft legislation that would forever protect some of Arizona’s most remarkable landscapes and waterways. Whether you enjoy hiking, horse-packing, hunting, photography, exploring, or just knowing that wild places still exist, wilderness designation ensures that places remain where the imprint of humans is largely unnoticeable. Only 6% of Arizona is protected as wilderness.
When a wilderness area is created, several land management issues are clarified, namely that the designated area will be managed to retain its primitive and wild character. While wilderness does not allow motorized transportation or equipment, it is open to the public and encouraged to be enjoyed. As the Wilderness Act states, "wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use." Wilderness is but one tool in the multiple use toolkit that public land managers — with the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — use to protect and enhance America’s extensive system of public lands.