Owyhee Wilerness, Idaho

Selecting Projects

With thousands of private inholdings throughout public lands, applying limited conservation funds to critical acquisitions became a foremost challenge to WLT early on.  Wilderness advocate Mark Pearson was on a parallel track, and he shared his approach with Mulford in 1992. “This led to a methodical approach that has made WLT fully credible,” reflects Mulford.  This method was developed by Pearson and researchers at Colorado State University.


Pearson outlined three major criteria for prioritizing inholdings:


1. How appealing is a parcel for development?

Development potential is evaluated primarily from an economic or real estate point of view.


2. What is the ecological significance?

Ecological significance considers the impacts of habitat fragmentation and the presence of sensitive or ecologically significant resources.


3. What is the social significance?
The social impact component gauges the impacts to human-centered or societal values like the wilderness visitor experience, aesthetics, or how the parcel affects management.


Within each component, five or six factors are rated and a numerical score assigned based on a system of low-medium-high corresponding to 1-2-3. Scores are summed and proritized ranking developed from these scores. All inholdings are examined prior to determining the owners willingness to sell.


An inventory and prioritization has been completed for all states in which the Trust works.


How do we decide which projects to work on when?

  • We reach out to landowners and sometimes work with them for many years until they are ready to sell
  • We are approached by landowners going through a generational change or have other reasons to sell
  • We are approached by federal land management agencies seeking a solution to a managment issue
  • We work with non-profit partners who have a stake in existing or proposed wilderness areas and are seeking expertise





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“Transferring this property into public ownership will help ensure conservation of the valuable resources this land has to offer for future generations.  Without the hard work and dedication of the Wilderness Trust and its partners this opportunity to enhance the Sheep Mountain Wilderness would not be possible. This is a true legacy opportunity made possible through public/private partnerships."


Jody Noiron


Forest Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest