Snowy Little Castle Lake

Protecting Access to Castle Crags Wilderness

July 9, 2019 — Wander through the wooded shores of Castle Lake, scramble across some exposed rock and stroll through alpine meadows and you’ll find yourself on the shores of Heart Lake, taking in stunning views of Mt Shasta.Little Castle Lake nestled in the Castle Crags Wilderness

This three-mile round trip hike is now possible thanks to our purchase this month of the largest remaining private property within the designated Castle Crags Wilderness. The 637-acre property is home to a portion of Castle Lake and all of Little Castle Lake. By purchasing this property, we are protecting the hiking trail to Heart Lake, as well as access to lake activities, fishing and hunting. Our purchase protects the property 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.

What We’re Saving

This property provides access to a portion of Castle Lake beach, the trail to Heart Lake, all of Little Castle Lake and Mt. Bradley Ridge. It also includes shoreline and the outflow stream from Castle Lake, an area that is loved by residents and visitors. Castle Lake is well-used by summer hikers, swimmers, kayakers and wildflower lovers; in the winter it hosts backcountry skiers and snowboarders, ice skaters and a few hearty folks who drill through the ice to fish.

The Castle Crags iconic rock formation is a world-class climbing destination simply known as “the Crags” and the landscape is sacred to the Wintu Tribe as a source of medicinal plants and place of spiritual guidance.

A 14-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) winds through the landscape nearby, and protecting this land provides an opportunity to connect to the PCT from Castle Lake in the future. The surrounding wilderness provides critical habitat for Pacific marten, blue ribbon trout, black bears, a growing wolf population and the endemic Castle Crags harebell wildflower.

The Trust will now undertake the multi-year process of transferring it to public ownership through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to increase recreational access for campers, hikers, lake visitors and hunters. Acquisition of the Little Castle Lake property builds on the Trust’s recent Castle Crags project. 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, as well as preserving wildlife habitat and an important water source for California residents.

We are actively fundraising the $365,000 needed to pay off our loan, insure the property and undergo the multi-year process to transfer this land to public ownership within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

For more information on this project or our work:

The Wilderness Land Trust
PO Box 11697
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

We’re Applying for Land Trust Accreditation Renewal

June 17, 2019 — The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Wilderness Land Trust (WLT) is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation in 2019, which occurs every five years. WLT was first accredited in 2008 and completed our first renewal in 2013. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The Trust’s investment in accreditation demonstrates our implementation of best practices in the field, including commitment to sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting protection for the land we transfer to public ownership.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how The Wilderness Land Trust complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust.

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, or email your comment to Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.  

Comments on The Wilderness Land Trust’s application will be most useful by June 21, 2019.



Sally Bowman Joins the Weminuche Wilderness

June 14, 2019 — In 1899 Jerome Morse filed a patent on a 10-acre mining claim in the middle of what is now the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado, creating the Sally Bowman Mine.

The Animas River also runs through the Sally Bowman property

More than 100 years later and with the help of the La Plata Open Space Conservancy, we acquired that mine from Jerome’s heirs.

Today we are pleased to announce we have returned this 10-acre inholding to the wilderness by transferring it to the U.S. Forest Service

The Sally Bowman Mine is the third Colorado property we’ve transferred to public ownership this month, and the seventh project completed in Colorado’s largest designated wilderness. Our efforts further protect the La Plata River which runs through the property.

Thank you! Your support allows us to continue protecting our country’s wilderness for future generations. Please help us get the word out about our work by sharing this news with your friends and family and sharing our work on Facebook!



Colorado Land Protected for Future Wilderness

May 31, 2019 — The Wilderness Land Trust has just transferred two Colorado properties totaling 80-acres to public ownership within the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. The land is located near the town of Gunnison, within Colorado’s East Elk Creek, a proposed addition to the West Elk Wilderness Area

A creek winds its way through the proposed West Elk Wilderness addition.

The West Elk Wilderness is home to a host of trails that meander across its many mountain passes. If you’re a determined hiker, you can find lush, secluded valleys lined with trembling aspen that turn a brilliant gold in the fall.

In 2017 we purchased West Elk I, a 40-acre parcel, and in 2018 we purchased West Elk II, an adjacent 40-acre property. They are the last remaining private inholdings within the proposed addition. By transferring this land to the U.S. Forest Service, we have removed all private land issues within the proposed wilderness addition, strengthening the probability that East Elk Creek will become part of the West Elk Wilderness.

Please help us get the word out about our work by sharing this news with your friends and family and sharing our work on Facebook!



Lundy Canyon Campaign Success!

May 16, 2019 —  We are thrilled to announce we have met our fundraising goal to protect Lundy Canyon in the Eastern Sierra! This 49-acre former mining claim within the Inyo National Forest is adjacent a popular hiking trail into the upper entrance of Lundy Canyon. It has been identified as a high priority for protection from private development in order to conserve Mill Creek, safeguard wildlife habitat and ensure recreational access for the public.

Lundy Canyon in the Eastern Sierra, Hoover Wilderness, California

After launching a GoFundMe campaign, we received numerous generous donations through the campaign and directly to the Trust, raising the $10,000 necessary to complete the purchase and transfer the property to public ownership within the Inyo National Forest.

We are grateful to our supporters, the Sam Dietrich family and Mono Market, and to our partners at the Mono Lake Committee and Eastern Sierra Land Trust for helping to make this happen. Please join our email list for updates on our work protecting wilderness for you and future generations.


The Trust Takes a Field Trip

May 3, 2019 — Last weekend our staff, board, and project partners gathered outside San Luis Obispo, CA to experience the incredible beauty of one of our Trout Creek properties adjacent the Garcia and Santa Lucia Wilderness. These projects protect more than 800 acres of scenic viewshed and public trail access into the wilderness areas.

The Wilderness Land Trust and friends begin a hike towards the
Garcia Wilderness, California

We were greeted by lush green landscapes, spring blooms, cool clean water and yes, a few patches of poison oak – which we deftly avoided!

After our hike, we gathered for our semi-annual board retreat, where we officially welcomed new board members Sarah Chase Shaw, Zack Porter and Craig Groves, and returning board member Paul Torrence. I am continually amazed by the good work my staff and board accomplish to protect our nation’s wilderness, and I look forward to sharing the details of several new projects later this spring.

Trout Creek is your success story. Please invite your friends and family to subscribe to our e-News for more stories like this and to learn more about our work. We love sharing good news!

Your Continued Success in New Mexico

March 28, 2019 — The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on a 20-acre property that “cherry-stems” into the Columbine Hondo Wildernessin the Carson National Forest. The Commodore Lode property is located in Long Canyon, adjacent a popular wilderness access trail near Taos Ski Valley.

The Columbine Hondo Wilderness was designated in 2014. Our purchase helps protect the viewshed above the north fork of the Red River, a major tributary to the upper Rio Grande River and

View from the Commodore Lode property

ensures continued public access into the designated wilderness. We now start the process of transferring this land over to public ownership as part of the Carson National Forest.

In addition to the Commodore Lode, your generous support in New Mexico has protected land in the El Malpais National Conservation area, and the Sabinoso and Gila Wilderness areas.

Congratulations on another win in New Mexico, and your continued investment in protecting our nation’s unique wilderness heritage. Thank you!

Curious about wilderness we’ve protected near you? Visit our website regularly for updates on our work throughout the country and please share our work on Facebook.

The Trust Receives Conservation Award

Castle Crags Wilderness

March 22, 2019 — This week we are proud to learn we are the recipient of the Access Fund’s Land Conservation Award for permanently protecting the Castle Crags in northern California.

In 2013, our partnership with the Fund helped us secure two square miles of land
adjacent to the Castle Crags Wilderness from a local timber company. In 2018, we successfully transferred the 1256-acre parcel to public ownership for inclusion in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Enhancing public access to a world-class climbing area, saving old-growth forest that surrounds the Crags and protecting spawning habitat in Little Castle Creek are significant, as is protecting the landscape’s history, according to Aimee Rutledge, our vice president and senior lands specialist.

“The land contains dramatic rock outcrops and amazing views that are part of local history. The Wintu Tribe fought and died to protect it, and still come for spiritual healing, guidance and to collect plants for medicinal purposes,” says Rutledge.

We are very grateful to the Access Fund for helping to make this project possible.

Connecting People to the Land

March 8, 2019 — The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness Area is located in southwest Idaho near the Oregon border. The landscape is diverse, ranging from river canyons over a thousand feet deep to open expanses of sagebrush and grassland plateaus.

Eight years ago this week we transferred more than 600 acres adjacent the North Fork Owyhee River to the Bureau of Land Management for permanent protection. On this anniversary, we asked Rick Johnson, executive director for the Idaho Conservation League, how this project has benefitted the wilderness and those seeking to experience the land. This is what he said:

Through the work of The Wilderness Land Trust, a remarkable riverfront homestead is now open to the public and protected as wilderness. The area is a short hike from the North Fork Campground off the Owyhee Uplands Scenic Byway and is a regular stop on our Owyhee tours. We have seen cougar tracks and caught native redband trout here. The Trust has helped reconnect people to this place and created a portal into the wilderness. 

We love hearing how our work impacts wilderness and provides access for the public. Check out our website for more stories like this, and please share this with your family and friends. And, if this story has inspired you to visit Idaho, the Owyhee is stunning in the springtime.

A Bipartisan Victory for Public Lands

Feb. 12, 2019 — We are cheering on the U.S. SENATE for passing a public lands package that includes permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). From designated wilderness to national parks to neighborhood playgrounds, the Fund is a benefit to everyone in the community.

This legislation will permanently authorize a federal program to use offshore drilling revenue to enhance everything from wilderness areas and national parks to wildlife preserves, community parks and neighborhood playgrounds. Authorization for LWCF lapsed several months ago and we have been very hopeful for this outcome.

Protecting our Public Lands isn’t about politics – it’s about children, families, communities, and investing in future generations.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked diligently towards permanent re-authorization of LWCF, including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D – WA and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R – AK who introduced this bipartisan legislation.