Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar

The Trust Welcomes a New Board Member

April 2021 – We are thrilled to introduce Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar, PhD, as a new addition to our board of directors. Joaquin is originally from Mexico and lives in Tucson, AZ, where he works for a watershed management organization as a cultural ecologist. Joaquin splits his professional time between Mexico and Arizona implementing community-based approaches to watershed management, river restoration, geo-tourism, conservation and best practices for ranching communities.

Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar

Joaquin says he was drawn to wilderness at an early age when his mother taught him how to listen to the Sonora River and asked him if the river was happy to be flowing toward the ocean. He says the concept of the happiness of rivers stuck with him and perhaps led to his 20+ year career of working on watersheds.

When asked what drew him to The Wilderness Land Trust, Joaquin had this to say:

“Wilderness needs humans in order to be wild now. Humans are working to maintain wilderness and I appreciate the Trust’s relationship with public and private lands. I’m very interested in how the Trust can share the values of wilderness with the rest of society through stories, education, respect and connectivity. Nature and wilderness, it’s all a part of us. The closer we are to nature, the better we are as humans.”

Please join us in welcoming Joaquin to The Wilderness Land Trust family as our newest board member.

A Special Field Trip to Achenbach Canyon

On a hike in the Achenbach Canyon this week (left to right): Patrick Nolan, executive director, Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument; U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico; Aimee Rutledge, vice president and senior lands specialist, The Wilderness Land Trust

April 9, 2021 – This week we had the opportunity to visit our 109-acre project adjacent the Organ Mountains Wilderness with U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Aimee Rutledge, our vice president and senior lands specialist, hiked the Achenbach Canyon Trail with the senator, as well as project partners from the Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument and Bureau of Land Management.

Senator Heinrich has been a champion for the Trust’s New Mexico projects and passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, as well as a national leader in the initiative to protect 30 percent of U.S. land and ocean by 2030.

During the visit, Senator Heinrich had this to say about our Achenbach Canyon project: “This is a huge win for public access to our public lands. Easier public access to this trailhead will immediately put the rugged scenery and unique desert plant life in Achenbach Canyon on the map as a must-see hiking destination in the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument. I’m proud that the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which I helped to fully and permanently fund as part of the Great American Outdoors Act —  made it possible for us to secure permanent public access to the entrance of the Achenbach Canyon Trail. I am grateful to The Wilderness Land Trust and to the Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks for all the hard work and support that went into protecting this ecosystem for all of us to enjoy.”

Thanks to supporters like you, the Trust closed on this land purchase this week. Stay tuned for more good news coming out of New Mexico and several other western states soon.

For more information on our hike with Senator Heinrich, check out this article in the Las Cruces Sun News.

Perspective is How You Look at Things

March 19, 2021 – The Sangre de Cristo Mountains within the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness in New Mexico are 20 million years old, yet they are one of the youngest mountain ranges on earth.

The Wilderness Land Trust’s Columbine Hondo property

Designated in 2014, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness contains the headwaters of the Rio Hondo and Red River, both major tributaries of the upper Rio Grande. While our Commodore Lode property that leads into this wilderness may only be 20 acres in size, we helped protect the larger watershed within the 44,372-acre wilderness when we purchased it in 2019.

We are pleased to announce we have transferred our Commodore Lode property over to public ownership as part of the national forest directly adjacent the designated wilderness. This single project adds to our history of success protecting designated wilderness in New Mexico since 2004, including the Gila, Columbine Hondo and Sabinoso Wilderness Areas, as well as the El Malpais National Conservation Area.

Thank you for providing the vital funding to support our work. From our perspective, the Trust couldn’t protect our nation’s treasured wilderness areas without your generous support.

Please help us spread the word about the Trust’s work by sharing this email and encouraging your friends and family to sign up for our e-news.

Conserving Canyon Country

February 26, 2021 – New Mexico is home to some of our nation’s wildest landscapes. However, only 2.5 percent of the total land area is protected as designated wilderness.

Wilderness Land Trust staff and project partners on a recent site visit to the Achenbach Canyon in Organ Mountains Wilderness, New Mexico

The Organ Mountains Wilderness is a beautiful and popular destination, known for its spring wildflowers, seasonal streams that flow through rugged canyon bottoms, abundant wildlife and spectacular views of the rugged Organ Mountains.

To ensure these splendid characteristics remain intact, The Wilderness Land Trust is working to acquire a 109-acre parcel at the entrance of the Achenbach Canyon, as well as save public access to a popular trail into the designation. This project is our second in the region of the Organ Mountains Wilderness. In July 2020, we purchased nearly 100 acres of private land straddling the boundary of the wilderness area, including a series of mining claims that had been zoned for a future housing development.

Braving the chill air and occasional snow flurry, Aimee Rutledge, our vice president and senior lands specialist, joined Sylvia Ulloa from U.S. Senator Heinrich’s office, author David Soules, and Patrick Nolan, executive director for Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness, on a recent site visit to the property to review and coordinate the critical steps required to purchase this property.

Stay tuned for more exciting news as this project moves forward. If you are interested in helping us secure the property or would like to learn more about this project, I encourage you to visit our Achenbach Canyon GoFundMe campaign.

More Protection for Wild Sky Wilderness

Beautiful Silver Lake is a popular hiking destination in Washington

February 12, 2021 – Exploring the Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington state is like stepping back in time before early settlers began to dramatically alter the landscape. Thickly forested slopes and valleys lie in the shadow of high jagged peaks, protecting nearly all of the flora and fauna that existed hundreds of years ago. Old-growth trees and endangered wildlife species thrive as a result of its remote location, mind-boggling amount of annual precipitation and permanent protection via wilderness designation.

Unfortunately, the landscape is also riddled with mining claims from a time when resource extraction helped to fuel the growth of nearby Seattle and its surrounding area. Development of these claims threaten the very characteristics for which the designation was established.

In response, The Wilderness Land Trust has worked diligently for more than two decades to acquire these claims. Thanks to your generous support, we have purchased nearly 1,500 acres in designated wilderness areas throughout Washington, including the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson, Buckhorn, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Juniper Dunes Wilderness areas.

Adding to this total is another 31-acre parcel we recently purchased in the heart of the Wild Sky Wilderness, thereby removing the threat of mining or private development on this property forever. Additional protection is on the way this year, and I look forward to sharing more good news as several new projects develop.

Learn how you can help us protect this special northwest landscape and others throughout the western United States.

A Cherished Team Member Departs

Lisa Janeway on a recent site visit in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

Lisa Janeway on a recent site visit in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

January 29, 2020 – In 2013, Lisa Janeway joined The Wilderness Land Trust as administrative director, helping to manage the day-to-day needs of the organization. Her unbeatable combination of smarts, tireless work ethic and attention to detail resulted in her promotion to director of operations in 2019, occupying an important role within our lands program to help ensure each successful project.

Always up for an outdoor adventure, some of Lisa’s favorite project site visit memories include navigating a treacherous two-track in a 2WD truck on ranch property before it was added to the Sabinoso Wilderness, scrambling on foot across alpine tundra high in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness looking for boundary markers, and running for cover during an afternoon lightning storm high atop a plateau in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico.

Lisa recently shared what she appreciated most about her time at the Trust: “I am beyond grateful for the opportunities The Wilderness Land Trust has provided me in the last eight years. Every member of the staff and board is deeply committed to wilderness and that personal connection is felt in every decision made. The Trust is continually marching forward, even during challenging times. Thank you to all of the partners and donors that make this work possible!”

Good things come to good people, and while we’re sad to announce that Lisa is leaving the Trust, all of us are thrilled about a well-earned opportunity to pursue the next step in her conservation career. Well done!

Thank you Lisa, for eight years of outstanding dedication to The Wilderness Land Trust. We look forward to seeing you shine in your new role as stewardship director of the Mountain Area Land Trust in Colorado, and hopefully partnering on a future project together.

Protecting Natural Processes in Colorado’s Wilderness

December 7, 2020 – Wildfires are a natural occurrence within Colorado’s forest ecosystem, paving the way for removal of dead trees and plant debris, regenerating the soil, and creating a mosaic of young and old trees that support a diversity of wildlife species. But the development of private land within designated wilderness disrupts this natural process and puts homes and lives, including firefighters, in danger as agencies direct considerable resources to suppress them.

Colorado’s Mount Massive Wilderness

As you contemplate many worthy causes to support on Colorado Gives Day this Tuesday, consider our work in the Collegiate Peaks and Mount Massive Wilderness areas. In the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, we recently purchased 19-acres of land on spectacular Independence Pass and removed the last remaining threat of private development from this section of the wilderness. In the Mount Massive Wilderness, where Coloradans find peace in dropping a line, soaking in the sun and admiring native wildflowers, we are in the process of transferring a final inholding to the U.S. Forest Service, making this beautiful wilderness whole.

Since The Wilderness Land Trust’s first land acquisition in Colorado in 1992, we have purchased 126 private parcels of land totaling 5,868 acres to prevent development in Colorado’s designated wilderness areas and reduce the dangers inherent to wildfire season.

Thank you for your unwavering support in our work. Please join us for Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 8 or schedule your donation in advance. We couldn’t do it without partners like you.

Wilderness Land Trust Presentation on Land Acquisitions

November 19, 2020 – The Wilderness Land Trust staff recently hosted a zoom call to give supporters an inside look at the Trust’s work to protect our nation’s designated wilderness areas. The presentation offered a behind the scenes look at our current projects, including what made them successful and the challenges they faced.

This presentation is now available to the public. If you have any questions about our work, please feel free to contact us at (206) 397-5240 or via email at

A Final Piece of the Puzzle Falls Into Place

The Ferruginous Hawk is a threatened and endangered species in Washington state

November 13, 2020 – Within The Juniper Dunes Wilderness lives the northern most growth of western juniper that dates back 150 years. This land in southeast Washington state is often battered by strong winds that build upon its impressive 130-foot high sand dunes. It’s also home to the Ferruginous Hawk, a state threatened and endangered species.

Juniper Dunes is the only wilderness area in this state managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This landscape sees about a foot of snow in the winter and summer temperatures that regularly soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite these harsh conditions, plenty of animals thrive in the Juniper Dunes, including mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, weasels, porcupines, kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes.

Your generous support made it possible for the Trust to purchase a 236-acre property – the last private inholding – in the heart of this more than 7,000-acre wilderness. In doing so, you have helped remove the threat of future development on this harsh, beautiful area.

On behalf of the entire staff and board, thank you for making this possible.

The Trust is now working through the complex process of transferring this property to the BLM and when we’re done, this wild and windy wilderness will be complete.

A Path to Wilderness

October 16, 2020 – Designated wilderness protects vital habitat for threatened and endangered flora and fauna. Every acre we acquire and transfer is part of a collective effort to remove the threat of private development and make our wilderness areas whole.

Each project is an opportunity to fulfill our vision for a healthy, diverse and unified wilderness ecosystem across the American west.

In fiscal year 2019-20, we took another step toward accomplishing our mission with the purchase of 1,495 acres of private land and the transfer of just over 354 acres to public ownership. It almost goes without saying that we could not have done this work without supporters like you and without our invaluable partnerships with landowners, agency staff, sportsmen, conservation and recreation advocates, volunteers and foundations.

The past year has been daunting to say the least. We could never have imagined that we would face the kind of headwinds that have rocked our nation and the world. But as we look out over the landscape and the more than three dozen projects currently underway at the Trust, we are grateful and energized to have you beside us on the path to wilderness.

Thank you. We encourage you to check out the successes in our latest Annual Report and share it with your family and friends. Don’t forget to let them know that you are a part of our success story.