NPS Essentials: Wilderness Stewardship & Management


The mission of the NPS Wilderness Stewardship Program is to identify and designate areas as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS), as well as to steward those lands at the highest level of wilderness protection. The program trains NPS staff and educates the public about:

  • Wilderness character
  • Values
  • Ethics

The program works closely with our sister agencies and external partners to enhance capacity and engage stakeholders in becoming global stewards of our remaining wild landscapes.

All NPS lands will be evaluated for their eligibility for inclusion within the NWPS. For those lands that possess wilderness characteristics, no action that would diminish their wilderness eligibility shall be taken until after Congress and the President have taken final action.

By policy Wilderness Managers shall develop and maintain a wilderness management plan. Wilderness considerations will be integrated into all planning documents to guide the preservation, management, and use of the park’s wilderness area and ensure that wilderness is unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness.

For more information visit the Gateway to the National Park Service Wilderness.

Important Note:

When looking at all types of wilderness in the NPS including legislated areas that have been designated Wilderness by Congress, eligible, proposed, and recommended, these lands account for 80% of the acreage managed as wilderness by the National Park System.


  • Does your park have any legislated, eligible, proposed, or recommended wilderness?
  • How does the presence or absence of wilderness affect park planning and operations?

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