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Mark Miller works with AWC to help inspire protection and respect for Arizona's natural and cultural heritage. Read more...


A Lasting Purpose: Saving Wild Arizona

Organ pipe cactus.  Photo by Mark Miller.Arizona’s environment and cultural heritage defines the American West. Snow-capped mountains and deep rugged canyons; blooming desert and spring fed streams; lush conifer forests and fiery orange sunsets—the diversity of life and landscapes found here connects us to each other and to our ancestors.


State Acres: 72,731,000

Acres of Wilderness: 4,528,913

Wilderness Units: 90

Wild & Scenic River Segments: 2

Of the 31 million acres of public land in Arizona, only 4.5 million acres have been protected as wilderness. It sounds like a generous amount of protected acreage, but that figure amounts to only about 6% of the state.

The population of Arizona has tripled since 1970. The once open areas that connected our wildlands are filling-in with development. Dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles are probing deeper and deeper into our wild places, tearing up the landscape, fracturing endangered wildlife populations, and eradicating native vegetation. In addition to sprawling development and off-road vehicles, mining, logging, drilling, and road-building continue to threaten Arizona's irreplaceable wildlands.

AWC Stewards at West Clear Creek Wilderness, 2013. AWCOur Mission

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition's (AWC) mission is to permanently protect and restore Wilderness and other wild lands and waters in Arizona for the enjoyment of all citizens and to ensure that Arizona's native plants and animals have a lasting home in wild nature.
Key components of our work:

  • Coordinating and conducting wilderness inventories
  • Educating citizens about these lands and waters
  • Enlisting community and business support
  • Advocating for their lasting protection 

Our Game Plan

By building grassroots support and political momentum for wilderness conservation, AWC operates its programs on a campaign format, strategically assessing opportunities for conservation investment, then running goal-driven, time-defined campaigns to achieve results. Our organization manages three core areas of operations focused on: protecting wild lands and waters through special designations, cultivating land stewardship through volunteerism, and advocating for sound natural resource policy. Our work ultimately succeeds by empowering people to speak up for, and act on behalf of, conservation efforts.

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition has determined that nearly 5.5 million acres of Arizona’s public lands contain wilderness character and deserve special protections. In the coming three years, AWC’s special designations program is focused in three geographic areas: the Sky Islands, the Sonoran Desert, and the Upper Verde Watershed. In these places, our goal is provide strong, lasting statutory protection. Additionally, our unique volunteer initiative—the Wilderness Stewardship Program (“Wild Stew”)—focuses on connecting people with nature through on-the-ground projects designed to maintain and restore Arizona’s wilderness. Our goal is to safeguard these lands while building a strong advocacy network of people who care; we are focused on protecting and restoring our state’s wilderness heritage for this and future generations.


How to Find Us

Contact any of our AWC Regional Offices to find out more about our programs, latest projects, and how you can help us accomplish our goal of saving Wild Arizona!



-Arizona Wilderness Coalition mission statement