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.