Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Farewell to a Friend and Former Board Member

Nov. 24, 2021 – We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend and former board member, Jim Babbitt.

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim joined The Wilderness Land Trust board of directors in 2016 and served for four years. “I admired him a great deal. As a board member, he would listen carefully during meetings, provide thoughtful feedback, and he always offered help and encouragement when faced with a challenge,” says Brad Borst, president, The Wilderness Land Trust.

Jim was a prominent figure in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. He authored three historical books on Flagstaff and was a longtime advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, helping to preserve our country’s historic buildings, neighborhoods and communities. In addition to his work at the Trust, Jim also championed several conservation organizations, including the Grand Canyon Trust, where he worked to preserve and protect the landscapes and Native peoples of the Colorado Plateau.

Denise Schlener, board chair, had this to say about her fellow board member: “Jim had many gifts. Among them was a gentle style that belied how strong his passions were, including his love of wilderness. He was an engaged listener who wasn’t interested in offering his own opinion until he understood the issue and heard from everyone.  When he did speak, everyone listened.”

According to Sarah Chase Shaw, Trust board member and longtime family friend, “Jim exhibited a quiet humility that comes from having the confidence to stick up for what he believed in. Jim’s legacy will reflect a deep belief in family, community, history, and a love for the vast northern Arizona landscape, a place he knew like the back of his hand.”

The Wilderness Land Trust will miss Jim dearly, and our hearts go out to Jim’s wife Helene, his son Charlie, and the rest of his family.

High above the clouds in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State

A Heartfelt Thanks this Holiday Season

Nov. 19, 2021 – Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest and express gratitude for the many blessings in our lives.

Cover image of The Wilderness Land Trust's 2021 Annual Report depicts the rugged North Cascades in Washington state.Here at The Wilderness Land Trust, the gratitude list is long and by no means complete when I describe the hardworking staff and volunteer members of our board; the beautiful and diverse wilderness landscapes where we conduct our work; the prodigious volunteers who assist with property reclamation; and the smart, committed agency staff who ensure the smooth transition of a privately held property over to public ownership.

Most of all, we are blessed by the people who support our work.

THANKS TO YOU, we successfully navigated through the challenges we faced during the pandemic to acquire 667 acres of land that potentially threatened our treasured wildlands with private development, and transfer more than 1,700 acres over to public ownership.

Every land project is an opportunity to protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered species, unify fragmented wildlands to ensure safe animal migration, and conserve large, biologically diverse ecosystems across the American west.

I encourage you to check out our 2021 Annual Report. It is filled with an abundance of success stories solely made possible by people like you who give generously to The Wilderness Land Trust.

I promise you’ll see your own good work reflected in its pages.

Join our Team!

Employment Opportunity: Director of Operations and Development
Position Location: Western United States
Supervisor: President
Work Schedule: .75 FTE
Salary: $60,000 – $65,000 DOE

Benefits Offered by The Wilderness Land Trust
The Wilderness Land Trust offers a competitive benefits package including health, dental, and vision insurance, 401k plan, three weeks annual paid vacation, work from home or office schedule, and professional development opportunities.

Organizational Mission
We keep the Promise of Wilderness – by acquiring and transferring private lands to public ownership to complete designated and proposed wilderness areas, or directly protect wilderness values.

Position Description
The Wilderness Land Trust has an opening for a salaried position as a Director of Operations and Development to support project-specific land acquisition fundraising efforts, oversee general fundraising activities to attract new donors and increase membership level donors, and direct outreach efforts to build public awareness of our work. In conjunction with the President, the Director of Operations and Development works to guide the effectiveness of the Trust in all functional areas and reports directly to the President.

Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate must have exceptional interpersonal skills, at least 3-4 years’ experience working remotely to help fund land acquisition projects and achieve annual fundraising goals, be very detail-oriented, a proven ability to travel and work alone managing donor outreach activities and meet hard deadlines, a passion for wilderness conservation, a good sense of humor and enjoy working in a small, complex, non-profit environment.

Essential Responsibilities:

  • Assist with project-specific support, including land acquisition fundraising activities and outreach to individual donors.
  • Oversee membership-level fundraising to increase number of annual donors, increase donor retention rates and upgrade donor giving levels in cooperation with the president, staff and members of the board.
  • Manage donor giving reporting, tracking of metrics, moves management, assist with the production of annual and special appeals, and the drafting of timely gift acknowledgement letters.
  • Support various communication platforms, including the development and oversight of storytelling maps to raise public awareness of the Trust and attract potential new donors.
  • Maintain donor record updates and wealth screening of new prospects.
  • Conduct business in a professional and business-like manner.
  • Effectively and efficiently promote the mission, vision and values of The Wilderness Land Trust.
  • Communicate fully with the President, staff and board of directors.

Necessary Skill and Experience:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent.
  • 3-4 years’ experience working on wilderness land conservation and general nonprofit fundraising.
  • Ability to work alone and travel to various destinations for project-specific events, donor meetings, fundraising training, in-person board meetings, annual staff retreat, Land Trust Alliance Rally.
  • Ability to set priorities, problem solve, manage a portfolio of numerous public awareness, project-specific and general fundraising projects across multiple western states, and meet hard deadlines.
  • Ability to write project grant or loan applications and manage all reporting requirements.
  • Very detail oriented, with ability to present projects in a clear, concise, written and verbal manner.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a small team and be willing and flexible to assist with additional requests for help as needed.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Outlook, Blackbaud eTapestry, Dropbox file-sharing.

Please submit a cover letter and resume to: brad@wildernesslandtrust.org
Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2021. The position begins February 1, 2022.

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

Field Season Comes to a Close in the High Country

Nov. 5, 2021 – It seems like field season began just yesterday, a window of opportunity to get out on the ground in the high country and inspect properties we are working diligently to acquire. Yet, the sight of fresh snow during a recent site visit to one of our favorite places in Colorado – the Weminuche Wilderness — was a reminder that the window is closing.

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

With the popular Whitehead Trail running through the 30-acre property, this acquisition is a high priority for the Trust. At an elevation above 10,000 feet, it won’t be long before this property is buried in the white stuff, and we were grateful to complete a property inspection with staff from the U.S. Forest Service and an independent professional appraiser. A site visit delay translates to a delay in purchasing the land, and we got to this one in the nick of time.

Each year, we travel across the American west to inspect private inholdings and evaluate what it will take to remove them from the surrounding wilderness. In our soon to be released annual report, we share details of the 667 acres we acquired and more than 1,700 acres we transferred during the past fiscal year. All of which started with a site visit similar to the one we just completed in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Each step of our process, from site visit to purchase to transfer to public ownership, would not happen without the generosity of our supporters. Thank you for providing us with the critical resources to get the job done. We hope you see your own good work reflected in our report.

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Protecting Silver Creek in the Wild Sky Wilderness

Oct. 1, 2021 – The North Cascades Ecosystem in Washington state is one of America’s largest expanses of wild public lands. Straddling the North Cascade Mountain range from Canada to Snoqualmie Pass, the ecosystem covers 2.6 million acres of rugged slopes, snowy peaks and lush, old-growth forests.

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Designated in 2008, the Wild Sky Wilderness is home to precious, carbon-rich trees — unsung heroes in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, it is also riddled with old mining claims that potentially open up the area to mining and logging.

The Wilderness Land Trust has been working diligently to acquire these claims in order to make the landscape whole. Our latest acquisition is a 39-acre parcel within the creek drainage that flows out of Silver Lake in the adjacent Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

Silver Creek catches close to 200 inches of moisture annually, providing critical water flow for salmon that spawn in the connected North Fork Skykomish River. Our latest acquisition, the eighth in this drainage, will permanently protect vital fish habitat, and we are actively working to acquire several more properties in the near future.

Visit our Washington state projects page for more information on our work in the Evergreen State and as always, thank you for your support that allows us to continue this critical work.

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