The Main Salmon River winds its way below the Trust’s newly acquired property in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Photo credit: Bradford Knipe

More Protection in the Heart of Idaho

Sept. 17, 2021 – Located in the midst of a 3.3 million-acre roadless area, the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, combined with the adjacent Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states.

The Main Salmon River winds its way below the Trust’s newly acquired property in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Photo credit: Bradford Knipe

The Main Salmon River winds its way below the Trust’s newly acquired property in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. Photo credit: Bradford Knipe

Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, grey wolves, lynx, black bears and wolverines call this land home. The Middle Fork and Main Salmon Rivers slice through the designation, providing habitat and spawning grounds for native westslope cutthroat trout, endangered sockeye and chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. The rivers and tributaries of this wilderness area are critically important for the long-term survival of these species.

This week we purchased another property in the heart of the wilderness. The 38-acre Surprise Lode property is directly adjacent our previous Painter Mine property, a parcel the Trust acquired in 2014 and transferred to the Payette National Forest in 2017. The Trust has also completed projects in the Hell’s Canyon, Little Jacks Creek and North Fork Owyhee Wilderness.

Protecting this beautiful land and its varied habitat is what we live for, and we are excited to continue filling in the map in Idaho’s fabled Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. Learn more about our process, and thank you for your generous support of our work.

Volunteers at the cabin removal site

Volunteers Restore Colorado Wilderness

Volunteers at the cabin removal site

Hearty volunteers in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Sept. 3, 2021 – The Wilderness Land Trust is deeply grateful for the invaluable partnerships formed on many of our projects and this summer was no exception. In August 2020, the Trust purchased the 19-acre Panama/Principal Lode property outside of Aspen, Colorado knowing extensive work needed to be completed on site before it could be incorporated into the surrounding Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.

To help with this effort, the Trust reached out to The Independence Pass Foundation (IPF) for help with the cleanup, but rather than just assisting, IPF took charge. Throughout the summer, Executive Director Karin Teague, along with a band of hearty IPF volunteers, made multiple trips to the property to haul out countless bags of garbage in preparation for a two-day intensive work party scheduled for mid-August.

Volunteers removing the cabin roof

Volunteers remove the cabin roof with hand tools

On August 12-13, the Trust, IPF, and the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers (RFOV) spent two long days emptying a historic cabin of anything not considered historic by the U.S. Forest Service. This included the removal of a heavy wood stove, plywood flooring and glass windows. We also dismantled the metal roof and underlayment — all done with hand tools and carried out on foot to waiting trucks at the trailhead.

We are grateful for this energetic cleanup operation made possible by our terrific partners. If you happen to run into Karin on Independence Pass sometime, be sure to say thanks in appreciation of all her hard work!

A view of the cabin with the roof removed

A view of the cabin with the roof removed

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Another Wilderness Designation Now Complete

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes Wilderness – Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management WA & OR

August 20, 2021 – The Juniper Dunes Wilderness is a land of extremes – from windswept snowdrifts in the winter to triple digit temperatures in the summer. But despite its seemingly harsh climate and lack of water for flora and fauna, plenty of animals thrive within its boundaries: mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, skunks, weasels, porcupines, birds of prey (including the endangered Ferruginous Hawk), songbirds and yes, rattlesnakes. The area also contains the U.S. northernmost growth of western juniper trees, which grow among the vast, windswept sand dunes.

Sand dunes, Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management

Today, the Juniper Dunes Wilderness in southeast Washington state is officially 236 acres larger with the recent transfer of our property to the Bureau of Land Management. While the transition to public ownership is always exciting for us, this project is particularly significant because it means this federally designated wilderness is now complete.

Cactus in Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management

 

Thank you for making all of this possible. With your generous support, we have now helped complete 17 designated wilderness areas throughout the United States, removing forever the threat of commercial, industrial and residential development within their boundaries.

 

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management 

Sandy landscape, Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management WA & OR

Sunrise Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Summertime Site Visits

Site visit photo in the Raggeds Wilderness

The Raggeds Wilderness

August 6, 2021 – Summertime is peak field season for the lands staff, particularly in the northern states where access to designated wilderness becomes possible once the mountain snow begins to melt. It’s a time to physically inspect potential new land acquisitions, as well as fulfill our annual site visit requirement for properties the Trust is working to transfer to public ownership.

For the past four weeks, land specialist Kelly Conde has been doing just that, starting with the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in her home state of Idaho. The rugged nature of this wilderness area can present a formidable challenge while researching a property, and she got a taste of this while scrambling up a steep ridge with breathtaking views of the Salmon River below.

The following week’s adventure was all about the deep drainages and mountainous inclines found in the Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas of Washington state. According to Kelly, she “mastered the art of the vegetation belay where any bush or small tree can be used to lower oneself down a very steep slope” as she visited three potential new land acquisitions.

Moving on to Colorado, Kelly walked through the high alpine tundra of the Fossil Ridge Wilderness, endless aspen groves of the Holy Cross Wilderness and thick wildflowers of the Raggeds Wilderness. She tells us she may have seen a wolverine scampering across a 12,400-foot scree field in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (though none have been officially documented in Colorado since 2009).

Over four weeks, 11 properties in nine wilderness areas were inspected, each unique and entirely worthy of permanent protection as federally designated wilderness.

Thank you for your generous contributions that provide the funding for our land staff to complete these site visits, a critical step in the process of protecting a wilderness area near you.

Fossil Ridge Wilderness

Fossil Ridge Wilderness (Photo credit: Kelly Conde)

Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness

Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness  (Photo credit: Kelly Conde)

 

 

 

 

The view from a recent site visit in the Wilderness

Holy Cross Wilderness (photo credit: Kelly Conde)

Sabinoso Wilderness Expands by Nearly 50 Percent

Wilderness Land Trust Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist Aimee Rutledge with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

Wilderness Land Trust Vice President and Senior Lands Specialist Aimee Rutledge with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland

July 23, 2021 – The Sabinoso Wilderness in New Mexico has expanded again thanks to our partnership with Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Wyss Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the leadership of U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff and local public officials.

Through a land donation that included 908 acres of property acquired by The Wilderness Land Trust and TPL’s 8,947-acre Cañon Ciruela property, a total of 9,855 acres have been transferred to the BLM, marking the largest expansion of a federally designated wilderness via donation in U.S. history.

Our work on the Rimrock Rose Ranch project adjacent to the Sabinoso Wilderness opened public access to this previously land-locked wilderness area and increased the size of the federal designation by 25 percent with the first 3,600 acre land transfer in 2017. The latest addition will create a second access point for the public.

During her visit to the Sabinoso, Secretary Haaland called the wilderness “An environmental treasure for all the American people.” We couldn’t agree more with her assessment. Our sincere thanks for your generous support of our work to protect federally designated wilderness in New Mexico and across the American West. Read more about this project in the Albuquerque Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commission Anna Hansen, Bureau of Land Management staff, and representatives from The Wilderness Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, National Wildlife Federation, Wyss Foundation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joined together to celebrate the latest Sabinoso Wilderness expansion on July 17, 2021.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, Santa Fe County Commission Anna Hansen, Bureau of Land Management staff, and representatives from The Wilderness Land Trust, Trust for Public Land, National Wildlife Federation, Wyss Foundation, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation joined together to celebrate the latest Sabinoso Wilderness expansion on July 17, 2021.
Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland cuts the ceremonial ribbon

Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land 

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland speaking at the event

Photo credit: Jerod Foster, courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

Zack Porter photographing Trout Creek

Another Santa Lucia Wilderness Success Story

July 9, 2021 – The Santa Lucia Wilderness is located near San Luis Obispo, California, and is a unique refuge for plants, animals and humans that covers the interior coastal range mountains. Designated in 1978, it totals 20,241 acres and is known for its mountain peaks, chaparral-covered slopes and ancient oaks. This landscape is part of more than 1.7 million acres of protected coastal landscapes that provide resilience to a rapidly changing climate. Santa Lucia Wilderness

Thanks to your generous support, The Wilderness Land Trust has just purchased 148 acres in the Los Padres National Forest that will add to that total and help provide an important wildlife connection between the existing Santa Lucia Wilderness and a proposed wilderness to the northeast.

Our Trout Creek IV Project builds on our purchase and transfer of three prior properties — Trout Creek I, II, III — that total more than 800 acres, and provides a key link to the planned California Condor Trail, a 400-mile route connecting the southern and northern parts of the Los Padres National Forest. The property’s watershed supports critical habitat for a number of endangered, threatened and sensitive species, including mountain lion, black bear, two-stripe garter snake, California spotted owl, western pond turtle, brown and rainbow trout, and migratory song birds.

Again, thank you for your support of our work to protect federally designated wilderness along the coast of California and ensuring another success story to share with family and friends!

 

A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

Little Castle Lake Permanently Protected

June 25, 2021 – Our 2019 purchase of the 637-acre Little Castle Lake property in California represented the largest remaining private parcel in the Castle Crags Wilderness. This land straddles the wilderness boundary and includes a portion of Castle Lake and all of Little Castle Lake.

A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

To people familiar with this area, this purchase meant the protection of the hiking trail to Heart Lake, and access to lake activities, fishing and hunting. It also meant the property would be protected from logging and development, which would have threatened old growth forest, critical habitat and a major source of clean water for California and the west.

We are thrilled to tell you that this property has officially transferred to public ownership through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. We are also grateful for the help of our project partners at the Siskiyou Land Trust, Mt. Shasta Trails Association, Conservation Alliance and U.S. Forest Service, who contributed to the success of this project.

The Castle Crags Wilderness encompasses more than 12,000 acres and is located at the south end of the 11 million acre Klamath Siskiyou wild area that covers northern California and southern Oregon and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra through six wilderness areas. In June 2018, the Trust transferred 1,256 acres of the Crags to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, opening access from the east to trails and world class rock climbing.

If you have the opportunity, we encourage you to visit this beautiful region of California and experience the new official trail leading from Castle Lake to Heart Lake.

 

Wild Sky Wilderness

Connecting With Our Projects Online

June 18, 2021 – Our team is hard at work protecting federally designated wilderness across the western United States by removing the threat of private development, mining and other uses inconsistent with wilderness conservation. With the breadth of our work, it is hard to keep you, our  supporters, informed without flooding your inbox.

Wild Sky Wilderness

The Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington’s North Cascades

To make it easier for you to stay updated on our work in each state, we have added a new state by state project section to our website. I invite you to visit our new Washington state project page, where you’ll find information on the challenges this state faces and what we are doing to protect it.

Washington’s North Cascades are particularly vulnerable to activities that threaten the resiliency of the land, making it more susceptible to the impacts of a changing climate. With ten projects underway in the state — including seven within the Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas in the North Cascades — we are removing these threats and permanently protecting this land for future generations to discover, explore and enjoy.

Stay tuned for additional state by state project pages on our website in the coming weeks!

 

kayaking on Windham Bay

Achievement in Alaska

May 7, 2021 –  In 2017 the Trust purchased the largest remaining private inholding in the Chuck River Wilderness in Alaska. This project was particularly meaningful for our dedicated lands staff because it represented our first land acquisition project in Alaska.

The 154-acre property is located at the head of Windham Bay, approximately three hours southeast of Juneau by boat and across from the Admiralty Island National Monument. It includes a complex of eight mining claims dating back to 1869, and evidence of past mining activity can still be found amongst a few discarded and rusting pieces of equipment on the property.

Thanks to your generous support, this property now has a brighter future as federally designated wilderness. This week we transferred this land to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent protection as part of the Chuck River Wilderness, a rugged, untamed rainforest home to grizzly and black bear, moose, wolves and many other species.

By acquiring this property, we eliminated the potential for future mining within the wilderness designation. Upon transfer to public ownership, we have expanded the size of the Chuck River Wilderness and enhanced a public recreation experience by preserving the scenic panorama of Windham Bay.

Acquisition of wilderness inholdings remains the highest priority for land acquisition in the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan. With your support, we will continue our partnership with the USFS to help achieve that goal and create further wilderness protection in Alaska.

 

The old-growth temperate rainforests of western Washington are unsung heroes in the fight against climate change, storing vast amounts of carbon that would otherwise warm the planet. Photo: Looking down Silver Creek drainage on one of the Trust's active projects

Adding Wilderness to Washington’s North Cascades

April 23, 2021 –  The Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas, located within the fabled North Cascades ecosystem, serve as ideal wildlife habitat for the charismatic gray wolf, Canada lynx, wolverine and even the occasional grizzly bear. And yet, there are a large number of privately owned parcels located within the boundary of these federally designated wilderness areas that threaten their resiliency and leave them vulnerable to mineral extraction, logging and development. Water flows through the Trust's Evergreen Property

Our goal is to systematically acquire all of these inholdings, stitching together the fabric of the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson and all designated wilderness areas in the state of Washington until they are free of the threat of private development.

The Trust has 10 land acquisition and transfer projects underway in Washington state and we need your help today to complete these projects.

Generous donors have already committed $200,000 towards our fundraising goal of $400,000. This month, we are launching a North Cascades – Washington Wilderness fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $200,000 needed before our Sept. 1 deadline.

Please join our efforts by visiting our GoFundMe or making a donation directly to The Wilderness Land Trust. If you have specific questions about this work, please don’t hesitate to email or give me a call.

Thank you for your generous support of our work. With your help, 1,175 acres of new wilderness will be added to the Evergreen State, permanently protecting this land from private development, now and for future generations.