WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

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Photo Credit: Adriel Heisey

Preserving the Greater Gila

The Greater Gila:
America’s Next Protected Landscape

Deep in the heart of the American Southwest lies the Greater Gila Bioregion, a place that is larger and more biodiverse than Yellowstone, as wild as the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, a rich and sacred cultural landscape, and the birthplace of the wilderness ideal. WildEarth Guardians believes that the Greater Gila can and should be America’s next, great protected landscape.  A truly protected Greater Gila would demonstrate a new model of public land management that meaningfully integrates and uplifts the histories, voices, and perspectives of all Indigenous communities with a connection to the landscape. 

We envision an expansive protected area, anchored around the Gila, Aldo Leopold, and Blue Range wilderness areas, where wolves are free to roam, Mexican spotted owls soar, and Gila and Apache trout thrive in free-flowing rivers and streams.

For decades, WildEarth Guardians has advocated for protection and restoration of the Greater Gila Bioregion. We’ve made great strides since shifting our approach to working with ranchers, rather than against them. Our innovative method for retiring grazing allotments has resulted in the protection of more than 36,000 acres of important Mexican gray wolf habitat on public lands, giving the wildness that remains in the Greater Gila the space to endure.

 Guardians is actively collaborating with Indigenous communities,  local residents, conservation groups, and other interested stakeholders within the Greater Gila Bioregion to develop community-driven and science-based solutions to protect the Greater Gila against the threats of over-logging, military overflights, toxic mining operations, loss of wildlife habitat and decades of forest mismanagement. We aim to protect, restore, and reconnect public and private lands to provide a unique and rich place for wildlife, wild rivers, and current and future generations.

Greater Gila Priority Work

Grazing Permit Retirement

WildEarth Guardians compensates federal grazing permittees to end their grazing on public lands—an innovative, equitable, and effective way to overcome longstanding conflicts between livestock grazing and wildlife such as Mexican wolves, and decreasing water resources due to drought and climate change. Learn more.

Mexican Wolves

The Greater Gila Bioregion is home to the recovering Mexican gray wolf, commonly known as the lobo. The Mexican wolf, a subspecies of its gray wolf relative, is gravely endangered, with only 168 wolves remaining in the wild. Learn more.

Preserving the Greater Gila

The Greater Gila is one of the last great unrestrained landscapes in the American West. It is also the ancestral and contemporary homelands of at least 18 different Indigenous Peoples. It is essential that the Forest Service limit the ability for some individuals to degrade public lands and work to preserve the condition of the landscape for future generations
Learn more.

Postcard from the Gila

Guardians’ Greater Gila Campaigner, Leia Barnett, shares her meditations from a recent trip to the Greater Gila.

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See all posts about the Gila

Recent Stories From Public Lands

Healthy Public Lands Conference in Salt Lake City June 1-3

March 31, 2022

Join us and contribute to a collective vision for managing public lands that prioritizes healthy watersheds and ecosystems rather than livestock production

Read more >

Major shift in national wildfire policy needed

May 17, 2022

Emphasis must be on protecting homes and communities while recognizing the crucial ecosystem benefits that fire provides

Read more >

Major shift in national wildfire policy needed

May 17, 2022

Emphasis must be on protecting homes and communities while recognizing the crucial ecosystem benefits that fire provides

Read more >

Major shift in national wildfire policy needed

May 17, 2022

Emphasis must be on protecting homes and communities while recognizing the crucial ecosystem benefits that fire provides

Read more >

Public Lands Press

Protecting the Endangered Sierra Nevada Red Fox

Counter Punch | Mar 18, 2022

WildEarth Guardians and the California Wilderness Coalition have intervened in a lawsuit brought by snowmobiling interests that are challenging the Forest Service’s decision to designate over-snow vehicle trails and use areas on the Stanislaus National Forest in California’s Sierra Nevada.

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All Public Lands Op-Eds

Writers Gone Wild

Santa Fe Reporter | May 11, 2022

From the howling lobos to the silent native Gila trout, the endangered animals that live in the Gila Wilderness are among its best-known inhabitants; the lumbering pines and the rushing rivers take a close second.

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All Public Lands In the News