WildEarth Guardians

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Rewilding – healthy, connected wild places and waters for wildlife and people

Rewild Lands and Waters

The grizzly bears, lynx, wolves, Chinook salmon, bull trout, and jumping mice that Guardians works hard to protect also need healthy homes to live and prosper. That means rivers should be clean, cold, and connected. Lands should have abundant food, places to hide, and connected areas to roam unharrassed.  But over a century of greed due to extraction activities and road building has left fractured lands, waters, and lives in its wake.

Guardians works to erase the scars from misuse of national forest lands and to rewild the lands and waters. We work on policy—nationally, regionally, and locally—to keep restoration on the agenda. We work in our forests, reviewing hundreds of pages of project proposals and drafting comments and objections. We work with many allies, elevating their efforts and ours. We work in the courts, defending the rights of bull trout to swim in streams not clogged with sediment. And we work with Congress, opposing bad bills and supporting restoration funding for public lands. Our vision is of healthy, connected wild places and waters for wildlife and people.

Forest Roads: Key for Rewilding

For decades, the logging and mining interests that ran unchecked across national forests built roads everywhere. Today more than 370,000 miles of forest roads crisscross these lands—far more miles than can be maintained or that are needed to access trails and campsites. Roads send sediment cascading into rivers and streams, smothering native fish and polluting drinking water. Roads split apart wildlife habitat and waterways, create barriers to migration, and invite invasive species. We focus on forest roads because of the damage they cause, but also because the solution is simple: maintain the roads we need and remove the ones we don’t. This leads to reconnected habitat, restored waterways, and rewilded national forests.

Before and after rewilding on the Clearwater National Forest

What We’re Doing

We advocate nationally, regionally, and locally to restore wild places and waters by returning unneeded roads to the wild, maintaining and repairing needed roads for recreational access, and restoring fish passage where roads block migration. We advocate for a minimum road system—one that minimizes ecological impacts, maintains key access needs, and is financially sustainable.
We defend the rights of threatened species such as bull trout, salmon, and steelhead to thrive in healthy rivers and streams. Native fish need access to cold, clear headwater streams to survive. But when forest roads add too much sediment to streams or when large dams block fish from migrating up and down streams, we go to court.
We educate and lobby Congress to ensure funds are available to heal lands and waters through the Legacy Roads and Trails program. In the 10 years since the program was established, the Forest Service has fixed and/or stormproofed 18,057 miles of roads for access; reclaimed 7,053 miles of roads for the wild; replaced 1,030 culverts to open up fish habitat; created hundreds of local jobs; and saved $3.5 million per year in reduced annual road maintenance costs.
We recognize that all of our voices are lifted and louder when we work with others. Guardians leads or is active in coalitions such as the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, Drinking Water Providers PartnershipOregon Stream Protection coalition, and with allies such as The Wilderness Society, Winter Wildlands, and many, many more.

WildEarth Guardians continually develops and shares information widely. We also continue to preserve the vast library of resources from Wildlands CPR in our bibliographic database.

What the Heck is Rewilding?

Find out more about rewilding in this blog post from Guardians’ Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager.

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