National Forests

Although the National Forests are not ranked as Places – because they are large, often-dispersed administrative units – they serve as the backbone for conserving natural diversity on public lands in the United States.

Totaling 166 million acres, National Forests capture examples of 75% of all ecosystems on 8% of all land and waters in the lower 48 states.

The National Forests contributions to the Last Great Places are enormous. Almost 40% of the 2500 Last Great Places are designated areas within National Forests, including

  • 395 Wilderness Areas
  • 10 Wilderness Study Areas
  • 388 Inventoried Roadless Areas
  • 11 National Monuments
  • 15 National Recreation Areas
  • 30 Research Natural Areas
  • 37 Wild & Scenic Rivers

In addition to high landscape diversity, on average the National Forests have a low human footprint, above average vegetation condition, and above average resilience to climate change.

Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming – photo by Greg Low