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Removing the Threat of Mining in Muir Country

June 26, 2020 – John Muir spent his life advocating for permanent protection of America’s wild places, including the Sierra Nevada in California. Aptly named for his tireless work, the more than 652,000-acre John Muir Wilderness stretches nearly 100 miles across California from east of Fresno in the north to just west of Lone Pine in the south.

Hikers atop Kearsarge Pass, John Muir Wilderness

In the heart of the wilderness atop Kearsage Peak lies the Rex Montis mine. Most hikers who regularly traverse the John Muir Trail have no idea that this privately owned gold mine sits just above them as they cross Kearsage Pass.

When active, the site contained five tunnels and shafts, a boarding house, several cabins, a dump and affiliated mining equipment that marred the surrounding landscape.

Thanks to your generous support, the threat of mining is now gone. The Trust purchased this 11-acre property in 2016 and recently transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service as a new addition to the surrounding wilderness.

Trust supporter Fred Dietrich says his dad started taking him into the Sierras in the 1960’s and he’s been backpacking there ever since. When told about this land transfer, Fred said, “I have so many great memories of backpacking in those mountains with my father. To be able to protect the Sierras and recognize Sam Dietrich who introduced me to wilderness is really important to me and my family and something we feel honored to do.”

We hope you’ll share this good news with family and friends, and visit us for additional updates on our work to permanently protect our nation’s designated wilderness areas.

 

A Unique Ecosystem Worth Saving

March 6, 2020 – We were recently given the opportunity to preserve 1,698 acres of an increasingly rare sagebrush steppe ecosystem in the Bodie Wilderness Study Area in California.

The Bodie Hills are alive with 400 plant varieties and more than 250 species of animals.

The Bodie Hills are alive with 400 plant varieties and more than 250 species of animals. Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management

The sagebrush steppe ecosystem is at high elevation with gorgeous vistas over mountain ranges in California, Nevada and Mono Laske, a unique saltwater lake supporting endemic species. To humans, this ecosystem provides excellent opportunities for solitude, but it also provides home to approximately 400 types of plants that provide habitat, food and water for more than 250 species of animals.

Needless to say we jumped on the chance to purchase this special property in order to protect it. Surrounded by towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada, White, and Sweetwater Mountain ranges, this open space provides habitat for sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion, and many other species.

We are now working to transfer this property to the Bureau of Land Management and promote long-term management of the landscape as open space. Check out additional details of our recent work in the Bodie Hills and what we’re doing to protect critical wildlife habitat in the area.

 

 

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.