Across the United States, more than half a billion people visit public lands every year for recreation, education and spiritual fulfillment.
Public lands are also essential to our conservation mission. Throughout the Conservancy’s 65-year history, we have worked with government agencies to ensure the protection of diverse habitats that provide benefits to both people and nature across the United States.
Indeed, much of today’s U.S. Park and Wildlife Refuge system was initially bought by the Conservancy before transferring it over to government management. Visit your public lands—or any outdoor space—and enjoy all that nature has to give.
Public lands in the United States need your support. The threats of development, climate change and insufficient funding are just a few of the perils facing the lands we hold dear. Without strong citizen advocates, the future is uncertain for these special places. Sign our pledge and show your support for public lands today!
© Trisha Seelman
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Cape May National Wildlife Refuge was established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for use as a sanctuary for migratory birds, conservation of wetlands, and protection of fish and wildlife resources. In 1989, The Nature Conservancy provided the first piece of land for the creation of the refuge—and has since helped protect almost 1,500 acres through ten separate land deals. The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge offers many trails for bird watching and is ranked in the top 10 birding hot spots in North America. Visit Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.
© Jonathan Grassi
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, New York
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area in Queens, is a true urban gem and home to an impressive array of birds—more than 330 species have been sighted—and other wildlife. The refuge also offers an essential connection to nature for people in New York City.
The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and sponsored by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), is working in Jamaica Bay as part of a collaborative project to improve the ecological health of habitats, increase resiliency and enhance visitor experience at the refuge. Visit Jamaica Bay.
© Richard Benjamin
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, Rhode Island
Located 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is an important stop-over site where migrating songbirds rest and refuel on their way back to the tropics. The Nature Conservancy has helped protect more than 46 percent of Block Island, in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the island community. Visit Block Island
© Rebecca Wynn/USFWS
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia
In the early 1970s, the nation’s first major corporate donation for conservation—from Union Camp to the Conservancy—protected the first 50,000 acres that would soon become Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Now exceeding 110,000 acres, the refuge is a magnet for migratory birds and a must-see for birders looking to expand their life list. Visit the Great Dismal Swamp.
© Charlie Peek
Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina
The North Carolina chapter of The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 700,000 acres of land in the state. 600,000 of those acres have been transferred to public ownership, including land that is now part of Mount Mitchell State Park.
© Carlton Ward, Jr.
Everglades National Park
The Nature Conservancy is working in Florida to secure fresh, clean water for people, wildlife, and the iconic Everglades landscape. The Conservancy’s own Disney Wilderness Preserve sits at the headwaters of the Everglades, where we work to protect nature that impacts this incredibly important ecosystem. Visit the Disney Wilderness Preserve
© Jerry and Marcy Monkman
Wayne National Forest, Ohio
Ohio’s Wayne National Forest—the state’s only national forest—provides habitat for a host of wildlife, including imperiled songbirds, rare bats and black bears. Spanning 250,000 acres, the forest offers the public various recreational opportunities, including 300 miles worth of trails. The Nature Conservancy has for years encouraged the protection of large landscapes like those found within the Wayne, and has transferred nearly 5,500 acres to the forest. Visit Wayne National Forest and other public lands in Ohio.
© Paul Kingsbury
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
With more than 10 million visitors annually, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s most visited national parks. Conservancy staff have been working with NPS staff since 2014 on preventing the introduction of invasive tree pests and planning restoration for park areas in need of increased management. Help prevent the spread of invasives in the Great Smoky Mountains.
© Tom Haymes via Creative Commons license
Big Bend National Park, Texas
In 1987, The Nature Conservancy transferred 57,000 acres to Big Bend National Park—a West Texas treasure known for its massive canyons, vast desert expanses, forested mountains, and the Rio Grande that borders it. Whether visitors opt to hike, backpack, kayak, fish, or watch for some of the 75 species of mammals and 450 species of birds found at this iconic park, they’re sure to have an incredible experience. Learn more about our work to protect Big Bend.
© Simon Williams/TNC
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Towering behind the Las Vegas skyline, this iconic red-banded peaks are one of Southern Nevada's most beloved outdoor destinations. The Nature Conservancy worked with partners to protect more than 5,300 adjacent acres in the 1980s, ensuring public access was permanently protected for more than 2 million annual visitors to enjoy hiking, biking, rock-climbing and more. Visit Red Rock Canyon
© Scott F. McGee
Zion National Park, Utah
Every year, more than 2 million people visit Zion National Park to witness its colossal sandstone cliffs and remarkable array of biodiversity, making it the sixth most visited national park in the United States. Through it runs the Virgin River, which supports a landscape with 40 state sensitive species, 12 federally-listed species and six native fish. The Conservancy and its partners in Utah work to protect and preserve the river for both people and wildlife. Learn more about our work on the Virgin River.
© Scott Copeland
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Since 1929, Grand Teton National Park has offered visitors the opportunity to view an abundance of wildlife—including elk, pronghorn, and bears— amid the awe-inspiring landscape of Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. Led by the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming joined with a coalition of other organizations and donors in December 2016 to add an additional 640 acres to the park. Read about our work to integrate Antelope Flats into the Grand Tetons.
© Erika Nortemann
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
In 2004, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado purchased the nearly 100,000-acre Baca Ranch and transferred the ranch to the National Park Service to establish the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Read more about our work in Great Sand Dunes National Park.
© Joel Rogers
Hanford Reach, Washington
Cyndal Leaumont studies a bird guide as she overlooks the White Bluffs area of the Hanford Reach, the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River in Washington state. The Nature Conservancy and many partners worked for decades to protect the Hanford Reach, now a national monument. Cyndal’s grandfather, Rick Leaumont, is a leader in the Lower Columbia Basin Audubon and has been a tireless advocate for the Reach.