How to Help to Protect Wilderness Areas: 10 Organizations to Support

As hikers and backpackers in the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to take the wilderness areas that we spend time in for granted. When I moved to Oregon almost ten years ago, I didn’t know I would become an avid hiker, backpacker and eventually, a hiking book author. But since that time, I’ve grown to not only appreciate all that this area has to offer, I’ve discovered a need to spend as much time in the backcountry as I possibly can. Nothing else provides the sense of peace to my soul the way that the wilderness does. Because of this, it is very important to me to help protect these areas. If we lose them, they are gone forever.

One way you can make a positive difference is to support non-profit environmental and trail-related organizations that are doing work on our behalf. Becoming a member is a good way to support them. Additionally, many of these organizations offer volunteer opportunities, advocacy involvement, group hikes, and stewardship programs.

1. Oregon Wild
“Our wilderness, wildlife, waters, and old-growth forest programs protect pristine drinking water, unparalleled recreation opportunities, and fish and wildlife habitat across Oregon. With a small staff, which includes regional coordinators who live and work in each corner of Oregon, and the power of thousands of members, e-mail activists, and volunteers, Oregon Wild works to maintain environmental laws, while building broad community support for our campaigns.”

2. Friends of the Columbia River Gorge
“The unparalleled beauty of the Columbia Gorge is a treasure for all who live in the Pacific Northwest, and for visitors from around the world as well. We want to be sure it stays beautiful for generations to come. Friends works to ensure that the protections mandated by the federal Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act are honored and upheld.”

3. Washington Trails Association
“As the nation’s largest state-based hiking nonprofit organization, Washington Trails Association is the voice for hikers in Washington state. We protect hiking trails and wildlands, take volunteers out to maintain trails, and promote hiking as a healthy, fun way to explore the outdoors.”

4. Sierra Club – Oregon Chapter
“The Sierra Club’s Oregon Chapter has worked to protect Oregon’s environment and natural resources since 1978. Current priority conservation efforts include: protecting Oregon’s wild forests, protecting Oregon’s high deserts, stopping reckless liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals, and fighting for clean energy solutions. Additionally, the Sierra Club maintains a professional presence at the state capitol and is active in efforts to influence legislative and administrative decisions that impact Oregon’s environment.”

5. Audubon Society of Portland
“Our mission is to promote the enjoyment, understanding and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats. One of Oregon’s first conservation organizations, we were instrumental in developing the environmental policies that shape our region today.”

6. Pacific Crest Trail Association
“The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.”

7. Nature Conservancy – Oregon
“The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy has helped protect more than 500,000 acres of important habitats in Oregon.”

8. Oregon Natural Desert Association
“Not far from Oregon’s signature moss-dripped forests lays a high desert wildland that stretches across half the state. Out here, gnarled juniper trees, sheer canyons, craggy peaks and quiet expanses provide a vast haven for wildlife, as well as a wonderland for outdoor adventures. This is the awe-inspiring place that the Oregon Natural Desert Association works to protect, defend and restore for current and future generations.”

9. Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
“The Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is an advocate for the forests, wildlife and waters of the Klamath and Rogue River Basins of southwest Oregon and northwest California. We use environmental law, science, collaboration, education and grassroots organizing to defend healthy ecosystems and help build sustainable communities.”

10. Wilderness Society
“Since 1935, the Wilderness Society has taken our scientific expertise, analysis and bold advocacy to the highest levels to save, protect and restore America’s wilderness areas. Our programs include: protecting the last great American wilderness area, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, from oil and gas drilling; staving off logging and road building on 58 million acres of roadless lands; curbing the abuse of our lands by off-road vehicle users; protecting wild places within the lower 48 states from rampant oil development.”

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