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Completing a Wilderness

Feb. 21, 2020 – Nine years ago this week we completed the Kingston Range Wilderness in California by transferring the last two remaining private land parcels to the BLM for permanent protection. This land – 1,240 acres – is right in the heart of the wilderness and was being considered for a large private development when we purchased it.

This wilderness is botanically one of the most diverse areas within the California Desert. Botanists have identified 505 native plant species and 32 are viewed as endangered, rare, or limited in distribution. The only stand of giant Nolina (Desert Spoon) in the eastern Mojave Desert is found in Kingston Range and one of only three relic stands of white fir trees in the desert clings to its slopes.

What does “completing a wilderness” mean? One of the greatest threats to our globally unique, more than 110-million-acre preservation system is private land, or “inholdings.”

When a wilderness area isn’t complete, it is vulnerable to development, mining and logging. Should private land within its boundaries be developed, it would affect the surrounding wilderness and threaten vital habit. Right now, approximately 180,000 acres of private land still remains within federally designated wilderness areas in the lower 48 states.

The good news? Thanks to our unwavering supporters, we continue to steadily remove these inholdings to ensure our nation’s wilderness areas remain forever wild for future generations. In fact, since 1992 we have helped complete 16 designated wilderness areas by removing the last remaining privately held land Of course, we feel like we’re still just getting started.

 

 

Protecting a Paradise

Jan. 31, 2020 – There’s a hidden paradise straddling the Santa Lucia Mountains south of the Monterey Peninsula in California, where crystal clear streams flow rapidly through narrow valleys and coastal redwood trees grow tall from within the deep canyons of the Big Sur and Little Sur Rivers. Ventana Wilderness

That paradise is the Ventana Wilderness, and we are pleased to announce we have secured 80 acres that border this wilderness in the watershed of the south fork of the Little Sur River. The property includes a tributary to the river as well as a section of the Little Sur River Trail and a beautiful stand of old growth redwood trees.

We are grateful to landowners David and Peter Duveneck for donating this land to The Wilderness Land Trust. Their generous gift will allow us to permanently protect this land for future generations to explore and enjoy. We take pride in our strong partnerships with landowners and are grateful to our supporters for making this work possible.

Like what you’re reading? See what we’re up to in your neck of the woods!

 

 

Thank You for a Successful Year

Dec. 27, 2019

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit”Edward Abbey

The success of The Wilderness Land Trust is a direct result of our supporters, who recognize the absolute necessity of wilderness.

Thanks to our supporters, we acquired nearly 3,300 acres of private land during the past year to create new public access into designated wilderness, remove the threat of private development and protect vital wildlife habitat, flora and fauna. The impact of these projects reaches far beyond the acres we purchased; they affect more than 800,000 acres of wilderness overall.

These successes help ensure future generations will experience landscapes more resilient to the impacts of a changing climate, as a source of clean air and clear water, and as a safe haven for wildlife – all within a national preservation system that we are expanding.

On behalf of the entire staff and board of The Wilderness Land Trust — thank you to everyone who generously invested in our work.

Want to read more? Check out our 2019 Annual Report.

Happy Holidays,

The Wilderness Land Trust Staff and Board

A Win for Wildlife Habitat in Eastern Sierra

Dec. 13, 2019 — Did you know that it’s nearly impossible to replicate sage grouse habitat? These seasonably vocal, magnificent birds require habitat under very specific conditions and are strident about returning to the same location every year.

Photo credit: Tatiana Gettelman

Why are we telling you this? Because The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on two properties totaling 960-acres in California’s Eastern Sierra. This land provides vital habitat for sage grouse and other species in the rare and diverse Sagebrush steppe that is vastly under-represented in the National Wilderness Preservation System. It also contains a critical water source for all wildlife in the surrounding area.

The properties are located in the Bodie Hills, adjacent and integral to three Wilderness Study Areas – Bodie Mountain, Mount Beideman and Mormon Meadows.

Next steps include partnering with the Eastern Sierra Land Trust on sage grouse habitat restoration before transferring this land to public ownership under the management of the Bureau of Land Management.

Bodie Hills Habitat Facts

  • The Bodie Hills are filled with a diversity of species because of water, which is scarce overall in this landscape, but plentiful in a few distinct areas.
  • The  properties secured by The Wilderness Land Trust control plentiful and critical water for this region.
  • Lek habitat includes openings in the sagebrush landscape that host nesting sites. Lek habitat and broodrearing have been identified on these properties. Lek habitat for sage grouse is rare and nearly impossible to duplicate, and the sage grouse habitat quality provided by these properties is exceptional.
  • This land is home to significant plant species, including sagebrush, riparian and Aspen groves, and pinyon pine woodland. Plants identified here include more than 450 Species in 73 families.
  • The Bodie Hills provide habitat for a variety of species including pronghorn antelope, black bear, pikas and pygmy rabbits, mountain lions, mule deer, golden eagles and sage grouse.
  • The watersheds in the Bodie Hills are important tributaries to Mono Lake and the East Walker River.
A small stream meanders through boulders

Three Cheers for Three Transfers!

Oct. 25, 2019 — Your generous support recently allowed us to successfully transfer the last of three Trout Creek properties to public ownership within the Los Padres National Forest in California. This 324-acre piece of land is located near Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. It includes a trail system that provides a key link to the planned California Condor Trail — a 400-mile route connecting the southern and northern parts of the forest.

In July we transferred Trout Creek I and II to the same national forest, two properties totaling 480-acres and ensure public access to the California Condor/Hi Mountain/Trout Creek trail. This land provides vital habitat for mule deer, black bear, wild turkeys, Peregrine Falcon, mountain lions, endangered red-legged frogs and other wildlife.

Thanks to you, more than 800 acres bordering the Garcia and Santa Lucia Wilderness are now permanently protected for future generations. Find out more about our work and please share this success story with three friends. Thank you!

Looking east from the Grandview Lode property

Conservation Grant Helps Protect Little Castle Lake

Sept. 15, 2019 — We are excited to announce The Wilderness Land Trust has been awarded a $30,000 grant by The Conservation Alliance to help with our Little Castle Lake project costs. We acquired the 637-acre Little Castle Lake property in June to protect it from logging and development, which would have threatened old growth forest, critical habitat and a Castle Lake reflectionsmajor source of clean water. Our purchase also protects all of Little Castle Lake, part of Castle Lake, the hiking trail to Heart Lake, and access to lake activities, fishing and hunting.

Our work to save this land has just begun. 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. We are sincerely grateful to The Conservation Alliance for seeing the value in our work protecting and expanding our nation’s designated Wilderness.

Please consider becoming one of our Little Castle Lake supporters or share this news with your family and friends.

Looking east from the Grandview Lode property

The Romance of Heart Lake

Aug. 23, 2019 — Last week we guided a group of 35 friends and supporters through the wooded shores of Castle Lake, where we hiked across rocky outcroppings and alpine meadows to the crystal clear waters of Heart Lake. The hike was a celebration of our recent purchase of the largest remaining private property within the designated Castle Crags Wilderness. The 637-acre property is home to a portion of Castle Lake, all of Little Castle Lake and a section of the Heart Lake trail.

WLT friends and supporters arrive at Heart Lake

Wilderness Land Trust friends and supporters arrive at Heart Lake

While we spent some time educating our group about the project, we were also fascinated by their stories. This pristine land has provided space for life decisions, healing, marriage proposals, hiking, and swimming with children and grandchildren.

Our work to save this land has just begun. 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.

Please consider joining our efforts by donating or sharing this news with family and friends. We value your continued investment in protecting our nation’s unique wilderness heritage, and we couldn’t do it without you!

Santa Lucia Flower

California Condor Trail Access is Permanently Protected

July 26, 2019 — Thanks to your generous support, we have successfully transferred our Trout Creek I and II properties to public ownership within the Los Padres National Forest. A small stream meanders through boulders

The two properties total 480-acres and border the Garcia Wilderness near Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. Protecting this land ensures public access to the California Condor/High Mountain/Trout Creek trail. It also conserves vital habitat for mule deer, black bear, wild turkeys, Peregrine Falcon, mountain lions, endangered red-legged frogs and other wildlife.

We are also in the process of transferring a third property on this landscape, our Trout Creek III property near High Mountain Road, ensuring the public can access both the Garcia and Santa Lucia Wilderness areas. We look forward to sharing this success with you soon.

Thank you for your support and commitment to conserving wilderness for the next generation.

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
206.842.1214