5 Organizations Every River and Wilderness Lover Should Know About

By Kim Cassels   •   April 22, 2021

5 Organizations Every River and Wilderness Lover Should Know About

Volunteers in a field posing - San Juan Mountain Association - Mild to Wild
Credit San Juan Mountain Association

It’s Earth Day! WHOOP WHOOP! We hope you’ve turned off those lights, found a moment to free your eyes from the hypnosis of your screen, and scurried outside like a happy little squirrel. In honor of its 51st anniversary, we wanted to share some incredible environmental organizations that treat each river and wilderness everyday like it’s Earth Day, and share how to get involved with their efforts. As our cities and civilizations continue to grow, the natural places we use to source that development become more and more in need of our attention. 

Credit George Fry / Los Angeles Times
The first Earth Day April 22, 1970. Sixth graders join in the march in Los Angeles.

Giving that attention can come in many forms! And any amount of it truly helps, from getting out on the trails you already enjoy, to spending less than 10 minutes supporting a cause that you believe in. There’s always the good old fashioned donation as well, which is always deeply appreciated! Also, if you’re an avid online shopper, all of these organizations are on Amazon Smile, so you can automatically give while you load up your cart guilt free!  

Check out this list of amazing organizations doing the good work for rivers and wilderness, and how to get involved. Together we can collectively keep our little blue and green planet… well, blue and green! 


The Nature Conservancy – Anything and Everything, Everywhere 

Two Women planting trees - The Nature Conservancy - Mild to Wild
Credit The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global, science-driven organization that works to address climate change, protect natural land and water, and greenify cities through the use of sustainable technology. And because this organization is so widespread, finding a cause that resonates with you in your own state is actually pretty easy. 

They also have a nifty tool to calculate your carbon footprint, which compares how you’re doing in comparison to the average household of your size. This is an awesome feature to their site because it provides a list of tips to reduce your environmental impact, whether it’s through travel, energy, or how you shop for groceries. 

Ways to Get Involved 


The Sierra Club – Environmental Policy for Wild Places across the U.S. 

1960's Protesters for the Grand Canyon - The Sierra Club - Mild to Wild
Credit The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has been taking political action to protect natural areas since 1892. As the world of industry continues to flourish in the United States, this organization takes threats to the nation’s natural gems head on. Their projects are constantly pushing for river and wildlife protections, and  implementing laws to protect wildness preservation. 

The Sierra Club runs various campaigns across the country. And with environmental impacts occurring in all 50 states, you can browse their conservation efforts in your area on their Campaigns page

Ways to Get Involved 


American Rivers – All About Rivers, Wild & Tamed 

Tractor taking down a dam - American Rivers - Mild to Wild
Credit American Rivers

Since 1973, American Rivers has been keeping water clean and free flowing. Their focus involves protecting waterways from pollution, restoring natural riparian habitats, and ensuring wilderness remains wild through legislation. They remove dams, push for accountability from company’s that are responsible for water contamination, and spread the word about environmental threats to vulnerable rivers. 

American Rivers’ efforts run through all 50 states, which can be a little overwhelming to one person trying to get involved and give their support. Luckily, every year, the organization puts together a list of the top 10 most endangered rivers in the United States to focus efforts towards. The threats include mining, pollution, over usage, and species extinction. 

Ways to Get Involved

  • Gain new insight about specific rivers by watching one of their amazing films
  • Participate in River Clean Ups.


Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance – Utah Environmental Policy 

Protesters outside the Utah Capitol for Utah Wild Lands - Southern Utah Alliance - Mild to Wild
Credit Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

SUWA is dedicated to preserving Southern Utah’s National Parks, public lands, and designated wilderness areas. The organization’s research into energy developments, off-roading recreation and climate change charge their conservation efforts to keep Utah’s red rock wilderness pristine. 

SUWA also hosts the Wild Utah Podcast to inform and educate listeners about how and why certain policies, oil and gas developments, and other developments impact Utah’s delicate deserts and undermine their existing protections. This is a great resource for those who want a better understanding of environmental legislation that oftentimes becomes totally confusing.

Ways to Get Involved 


San Juan Mountain Association – Southwest Colorado Conservation 

People working on a trail in Colorado - San Juan Mountain Association - Mild to Wild
Credit San Juan Mountain Association

The San Juan Mountain Association provides education and interpretations of a magnificent stretch of the Rocky Mountains in Southwest Colorado. This organization focuses on how creating awareness around responsible wilderness recreation works to keep rich alpine forests, meadows, lakes and rivers pristine. 

This organization partners with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to create programs that bring people into the outdoors to foster a deeper appreciation for wild places. Their volunteer programs include trail restoration, tree plantings, interpretive talks for visitors, events and much, much more. 

Ways to Get Involved 

  • Purchase an awesome trail map from the bookstore.
  • Attend one of their in-person or virtual events.


Every bit of energy we put into caring for the environment absolutely matters. And the more we become involved, even for just one river, forest, or recreational area, we make a difference. All living things need thriving, natural ecosystems filled with biodiversity and plentiful water for survival. And we need them to enjoy, because nature left to its own devices quickly reminds us of the delicate balance we’re apart of, and that enables us to protect it. It also just looks great, doesn’t it? 


More Reading 

Real River Runners Write Letters — Herm Hoops and River Conservation

Sustainable Practices You Need to Know to Care for Colorado 

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