A view of Mt. Biedeman from the Trust's Bodie Hills property

The Wilderness Land Trust Adds 880 acres to the Mt. Biedeman Wilderness Study Area

View of Mt. Biedeman from the Trust's Bodie Hills property

A trail with a stunning view of Mt. Biedeman meanders through the Trust’s newly acquired Bodie Hills property

Bodie Hills land purchase means additional protection for California’s Eastern Sierra

Jan. 20, 2022 – The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on an 880-acre land purchase in the Bodie Hills, located in California’s Eastern Sierra. The Trust is now working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its conservation partners to permanently protect this property.

Overlooking Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra on the south side of the Mt. Biedeman Wilderness Study Area (WSA), the Trust’s Bodie Hills property is known for its mature pinon-juniper forest and seasonal streams. The Bodie Hills link the Sierra Nevada to the high desert plains and wetlands of the Great Basin in California and Nevada. The size and connectivity of these wild lands provide a high level of resilience in the face of climate change that allow flora and fauna to thrive. Mule deer herds and pronghorn rely on this property to migrate between their winter and summer habitats. The area also has some of the densest concentrations of cultural and historic sites in the Great Basin.

“By purchasing the Bodie Hills property, we have protected this land from the threat of development and mining, preserved the resilience of the surrounding landscapes and protected access to a truly beautiful spot overlooking Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra,” says Aimee Rutledge, vice president and senior lands specialist, The Wilderness Land Trust. “A heartfelt thanks to all our supporters and especially to the landowner and our partners – Friends of the Inyo, the Mono Lake Committee, Eastern Sierra Land Trust, DeChambeau Creek Foundation, Wildlands Conservancy and Resources Legacy Fund – for making this acquisition possible.”

“The acquisition of these lands, adjacent to the Mount Biedeman WSA, are an integral piece of the ecological connectivity of the Mono Basin and the Bodie Hills. The justification for permanently protecting this area is made significantly stronger because of unified ownership,” says Jora Fogg, policy director, Friends of the Inyo.

“The scenic beauty of Mono Lake and the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area is now better protected thanks to this significant acquisition. This is a great way to start the new year at Mono Lake,” says Geoff McQuilkin, executive director, Mono Lake Committee.

The Wilderness Land Trust has now completed five projects totaling more than 6,500 acres in the Bodie Hills region. However, thousands of acres of private lands still exist within and adjacent to the Bodie Hills, affecting several wilderness study areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and the Granite Mountain Wilderness. Without our efforts to purchase and protect private holdings within these public lands, these wild areas are vulnerable to gold mining, and commercial and residential development that threaten plant and wildlife habitat.

Additional Wilderness Land Trust Bodie Hills Projects

A Unique Ecosystem Worth Saving – Wilderness Land Trust

A Win for Wildlife Habitat in Eastern Sierra – Wilderness Land Trust

Lupine and cow parsnip are examples of some of the floral biodiversity found in the La Garita Wilderness in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Above, Paul Torrence hikes the trail to San Luis Peak in the La Garita.

The Wilderness Land Trust Honors Two Iconic Conservation Champions

By Paul Torrence, board member, The Wilderness Land Trust

Lupine and cow parsnip are examples of some of the floral biodiversity found in the La Garita Wilderness in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Above, Paul Torrence hikes the trail to San Luis Peak in the La Garita.

Lupine and cow parsnip are examples of some of the floral biodiversity found in the La Garita Wilderness in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Above, Paul Torrence hikes the trail to San Luis Peak in the La Garita.

Jan. 7, 2022 – The global conservation community and life on earth suffered a monumental loss in the closing days of 2021 with the deaths of two conservation giants – Professor Edward O. Wilson and
Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy III.

There will be scores of articles and eulogies written in many different languages about their scientific accomplishments, massive contributions to humans and the natural world, and legendary advocacy for biological diversity.

As a member of the board of directors for The Wilderness Land Trust, I honor these two tireless nature advocates and their support for our work at the Trust.

The Diversity of Life (1988) was the first book of Professor Wilson’s that I read. I was so fascinated by this book that I carried it with me on my daily trips aboard the Washington DC subway to work at the National Institutes of Health. I carried it with me again in the mid 1990s to a lecture by Professor Wilson at the National Zoo. I was one of probably 400 attendees who were awed by his articulate and profoundly thoughtful speech.

At the conclusion of his talk, I joined several dozen people who were attempting to introduce themselves to him. When the crowd finally dispersed, I was able to shake his hand and ask for his indulgence to write a passage in my book. He went a step further, spending some 10 minutes talking with me about the relationship of biodiversity and the biomedical research done at the National Institutes of Health, and then provided good counsel on available opportunities for my children as they developed their interests in environmental sciences.

A remarkably kind and generous man, he will be desperately missed. I encourage you to watch Professor Wilson’s video, Future of Life.

“Congratulations to The Wilderness Land Trust on its 20th anniversary. There is no better way to save biodiversity than by preserving habitat, and no better habitat, for species, than wilderness.”

–Edward O. Wilson, speaking in 2012 about the Wilderness Land Trust’s 20th anniversary.

A second seemingly near mortal blow to the battle to conserve biodiversity comes from the premature death of Dr. Thomas E Lovejoy, a tireless advocate for biodiversity and incredibly accomplished scientist.

I am honored to have met him and even more honored that he provided an endorsement of my book, “Molecules of Nature.” It was such a remarkable endorsement and I continue to work hard to live up to his words. Dr. Lovejoy never failed to answer my emails with the exception of a six-week period when he was in the Brazilian Amazon conducting ecological research. I figured he’d finally had enough of me, but he emailed upon his return! I encourage you to watch this video celebrating Professor Lovejoy’s work.

“For two decades The Wilderness Land Trust has piece by piece added to the long-term security not only of wilderness areas but also to the ecological security of the planet. And this is just a beginning for what the Trust can do.”

–Thomas E. Lovejoy, speaking in 2012 about the Trust’s 20th anniversary.

I felt very alone as I sat down to write this, remembering the loss of board member Jean Hocker in 2019, conservationist Michael Soule in 2020, board member Jim Babbitt in 2021, and now Professor Wilson and Professor Lovejoy. Who remains on this ride? Who will tell us to put on the brakes? Who will guide us through the next hairpin turn? And then I remembered. Professors Wilson and Lovejoy, through their writing, public advocacy, teaching and mentorship, have recruited and launched thousands of students into careers in the biological sciences, conservation policy, and biodiversity advocacy. With them resides the future of biodiversity and life on Earth.

Moreover, I have aligned and surrounded myself with free thinking individuals who have traveled different trails and come to the same place as I have: The recognition of the inherent value of the wild and all of the most beautiful and most wonderful species that share this planet.

I am grateful for my colleagues – the board of directors and staff of The Wilderness Land Trust. And I am also grateful to our members and supporters and all those who care so passionately about the community of life.

Our sister organization, Rainforest Trust, enjoyed the presence of Ed and Tom on their board of directors. One passage from a recent email from the Rainforest Trust is worth repeating here:

“Tom and Ed kept us focused on the most critical job in conservation, protecting habitat, even while many conservation NGOs lost their focus. You and I both know what they would tell us to do now — stick to the mission, stay the course, put one foot in front of the other. Act, urgently, to save species and climate. They are gone. The job is up to us.”

-The Rainforest Trust

About Professor Edward O. Wilson

Professor Wilson was a university research professor emeritus, Harvard University; twice Pulitzer Prize winner; U.S. National Medal of Science recipient; and Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People in America, 1995. He was also a renowned author of multiple books, including The Theory of Island Biogeography, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, On Human Nature, Biophilia, The Ants, Consilience, The Future of Life, The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, Half Earth: Our Planets Fight for Life.

About Professor Thomas E. Lovejoy

Thomas E. Lovejoy was a university professor at George Mason University, Biodiversity; chair, Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; founder of the PBS series Nature; a former senior advisor to the president of the United Nations; assistant secretary for Environmental and External Affairs for the Smithsonian Institution; and executive vice president of World Wildlife Fund – U.S. He also coined the term, “Biological Diversity.”

About Paul Torrence

Paul Torrence began his wilderness odyssey in 1970 when he helped scout potential wilderness areas in Shenandoah National Park in the run–up to the passage of the Eastern Wilderness Areas act (1975). He has hiked, backpacked, and climbed in wilderness from New Hampshire’s White Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks to the lush, biodiverse Southern Appalachians. Not content with only eastern wilderness, Paul has also climbed in Alaska’s Brooks Range, run the Hula Hula River to the Arctic Ocean, climbed the great volcanoes of the Cascades, traversed the high peaks of Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains and summited more than half of Colorado’s fourteeners.

For 30 years, Paul employed his PhD in chemistry to research cancer and virus diseases at the National Institutes of Health. He then became a professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he is now emeritus professor. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and edited four volumes in drug discovery and medicinal chemistry. Most recently he authored, “Molecules of Nature: Biodiversity, the Sixth Mass Extinction, and the Future of Medicine.”

June view from Hat Creek Rim Scenic Viewpoint

Welcoming the New Year with More Protected Land to Enjoy

Dec. 31, 2021 – We can’t think of a better way to close out 2021 than with the news that we’ve protected a vital property in northern California’s rugged Lassen National Forest. The 35-acre Hat Creek property connects to the proposed Lost Creek Wilderness area that totals more than 20,000 acres.

June view from Hat Creek Rim Scenic Viewpoint

June view from Hat Creek Rim Scenic Viewpoint

This stunningly unique refuge hosts two trout streams – Hat Creek and Lost Creek. By purchasing this land, we have eliminated the threat of private development so this land can continue to host deer, bear, elk, northern spotted owl and many other species.

This landscape is also part of the Klamath-Siskiyou wild area – 11 million acres of connected protected landscapes in northern California and southern Oregon that reaches from the Pacific Coast to the High Sierra. This massive stretch of land includes six designated wilderness areas that provide critical resilience in the face of climate change.

The Hat Creek property is surrounded by Lassen National Forest roadless area on three sides. By purchasing it, we have also provided a potential future fishing and hiking access point to this beautiful land.

Being outside in the wild brings us the greatest joy, especially during difficult times. And as we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome the new year and our 30th anniversary as a Land Trust, I can’t emphasize enough how grateful and joyous we are to have your support. If you are still planning to donate before the end of the year, your dollars will be matched by our board, which has generously agreed to match all gifts up to $35,000.

If you have already donated to the Trust, thank you! Your donation makes more smiles and laughter outside together possible in 2022 and beyond.

A Colorado Wilderness Holiday Gift

Dec. 17, 2021 – The Fossil Ridge Wilderness in Colorado is more than 32,000 acres of raw granite, high mountain lakes and glacier carved valleys. Along a steep ridge just below the summit of Cross Mountain sits a 183-acre property that significantly supports wildlife habitat for deer, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

A dusting of snow in the Holy Cross Wilderness

This mining claim is accessible via an old jeep road. This easy access increased the likelihood of development on the property, which is why we are thrilled to announce that The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on this property and removed these threats from the wilderness.

Northwest of the Fossil Ridge Wilderness sits the 64,304-acre Raggeds Wilderness. A 10.33-acre mining claim just outside the boundary of the designation is easily accessed by a nearby dirt road and has the flat scenic vistas that make building a significant threat. I’m delighted to tell you we have also purchased this property and removed the threat of yet another development.

Acre by acre we are fulfilling our mission to eliminate private property from within our nation’s treasured wilderness areas. Every land acquisition is an opportunity to protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered species, unify fragmented wildlands to ensure safe animal migration and conserve large, biologically diverse ecosystems across the west.

The Wilderness Land Trust is incredibly grateful to the generous supporters who make this all possible. We hope this latest news brings a smile to your face as you celebrate the holiday season.

The Holy Cross Wilderness, Colorado

More Protection for Colorado Wilderness – A message from Kelly Conde, lands specialist

Dec. 6, 2021 – The Wilderness Land Trust just closed on the Little Anne Lode in the Holy Cross Wilderness. This five-acre property may be small, but with both building and mining potential, posed a big risk to the wilderness area.

View of the Holy Cross Wilderness from the Little Anne Lode property

View of the Holy Cross Wilderness from the Little Anne Lode property

My first time in the Holy Cross Wilderness was this summer on a site visit to Little Anne Lode, which is just a short scramble above Upper Turquoise Lake. While the hike was very pleasant, it wasn’t until I made it over the ridge to the property that I understood the true, epic nature of the Holy Cross Wilderness.

I saw before me the swath of unencumbered land, made of rugged ridgelines and glacier-carved valleys that sits between the Vail Pass and Thompson Divide wildlife corridors, and serves as a critical passageway for everything from elk to Canada lynx.

What I didn’t see but knew was there were the many private inholdings that dot the Holy Cross Wilderness. Within these private parcels, minerals can be mined, houses built, trees logged. These parcels sit beside high mountain lakes, along scenic ridges and through clear tumbling streams. Their impact extends well beyond their borders, threatening the very nature of the wilderness.

My site visit was a necessary step in purchasing the Little Anne Lode parcel and protecting it from these threats. And now, with this acquisition, the incredible view above Upper Turquoise Lake will remain unchanged and the area unencumbered by mining or other development forever.

Little Anne Lode is one of nine properties we are working to acquire throughout Colorado, five of which are in the Holy Cross Wilderness. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, The Wilderness Land Trust is participating in #ColoradoGives, a state-wide giving campaign that will help fund our efforts to acquire and transfer private land within Colorado’s wilderness. Please visit our Colorado Gives page between now and midnight on Dec. 7. All donations made between now and the end of the year will be matched (up to $35,000) by our board of directors.

And stay tuned for some more good news coming out of Colorado later this month!

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Farewell to a Friend and Former Board Member

Nov. 24, 2021 – We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend and former board member, Jim Babbitt.

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim Babbitt (far right) with Sarah Chase Shaw (middle) and Helene Babbitt at a Trust board meeting in 2019

Jim joined The Wilderness Land Trust board of directors in 2016 and served for four years. “I admired him a great deal. As a board member, he would listen carefully during meetings, provide thoughtful feedback, and he always offered help and encouragement when faced with a challenge,” says Brad Borst, president, The Wilderness Land Trust.

Jim was a prominent figure in his hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. He authored three historical books on Flagstaff and was a longtime advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, helping to preserve our country’s historic buildings, neighborhoods and communities. In addition to his work at the Trust, Jim also championed several conservation organizations, including the Grand Canyon Trust, where he worked to preserve and protect the landscapes and Native peoples of the Colorado Plateau.

Denise Schlener, board chair, had this to say about her fellow board member: “Jim had many gifts. Among them was a gentle style that belied how strong his passions were, including his love of wilderness. He was an engaged listener who wasn’t interested in offering his own opinion until he understood the issue and heard from everyone.  When he did speak, everyone listened.”

According to Sarah Chase Shaw, Trust board member and longtime family friend, “Jim exhibited a quiet humility that comes from having the confidence to stick up for what he believed in. Jim’s legacy will reflect a deep belief in family, community, history, and a love for the vast northern Arizona landscape, a place he knew like the back of his hand.”

The Wilderness Land Trust will miss Jim dearly, and our hearts go out to Jim’s wife Helene, his son Charlie, and the rest of his family.

High above the clouds in the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State

A Heartfelt Thanks this Holiday Season

Nov. 19, 2021 – Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest and express gratitude for the many blessings in our lives.

Cover image of The Wilderness Land Trust's 2021 Annual Report depicts the rugged North Cascades in Washington state.Here at The Wilderness Land Trust, the gratitude list is long and by no means complete when I describe the hardworking staff and volunteer members of our board; the beautiful and diverse wilderness landscapes where we conduct our work; the prodigious volunteers who assist with property reclamation; and the smart, committed agency staff who ensure the smooth transition of a privately held property over to public ownership.

Most of all, we are blessed by the people who support our work.

THANKS TO YOU, we successfully navigated through the challenges we faced during the pandemic to acquire 667 acres of land that potentially threatened our treasured wildlands with private development, and transfer more than 1,700 acres over to public ownership.

Every land project is an opportunity to protect vital habitat for threatened and endangered species, unify fragmented wildlands to ensure safe animal migration, and conserve large, biologically diverse ecosystems across the American west.

I encourage you to check out our 2021 Annual Report. It is filled with an abundance of success stories solely made possible by people like you who give generously to The Wilderness Land Trust.

I promise you’ll see your own good work reflected in its pages.

Join our Team!

Employment Opportunity: Director of Operations and Development
Position Location: Western United States
Supervisor: President
Work Schedule: .75 FTE
Salary: $60,000 – $65,000 DOE

Benefits Offered by The Wilderness Land Trust
The Wilderness Land Trust offers a competitive benefits package including health, dental, and vision insurance, 401k plan, three weeks annual paid vacation, work from home or office schedule, and professional development opportunities.

Organizational Mission
We keep the Promise of Wilderness – by acquiring and transferring private lands to public ownership to complete designated and proposed wilderness areas, or directly protect wilderness values.

Position Description
The Wilderness Land Trust has an opening for a salaried position as a Director of Operations and Development to support project-specific land acquisition fundraising efforts, oversee general fundraising activities to attract new donors and increase membership level donors, and direct outreach efforts to build public awareness of our work. In conjunction with the President, the Director of Operations and Development works to guide the effectiveness of the Trust in all functional areas and reports directly to the President.

Ideal Candidate
The ideal candidate must have exceptional interpersonal skills, at least 3-4 years’ experience working remotely to help fund land acquisition projects and achieve annual fundraising goals, be very detail-oriented, a proven ability to travel and work alone managing donor outreach activities and meet hard deadlines, a passion for wilderness conservation, a good sense of humor and enjoy working in a small, complex, non-profit environment.

Essential Responsibilities:

  • Assist with project-specific support, including land acquisition fundraising activities and outreach to individual donors.
  • Oversee membership-level fundraising to increase number of annual donors, increase donor retention rates and upgrade donor giving levels in cooperation with the president, staff and members of the board.
  • Manage donor giving reporting, tracking of metrics, moves management, assist with the production of annual and special appeals, and the drafting of timely gift acknowledgement letters.
  • Support various communication platforms, including the development and oversight of storytelling maps to raise public awareness of the Trust and attract potential new donors.
  • Maintain donor record updates and wealth screening of new prospects.
  • Conduct business in a professional and business-like manner.
  • Effectively and efficiently promote the mission, vision and values of The Wilderness Land Trust.
  • Communicate fully with the President, staff and board of directors.

Necessary Skill and Experience:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent.
  • 3-4 years’ experience working on wilderness land conservation and general nonprofit fundraising.
  • Ability to work alone and travel to various destinations for project-specific events, donor meetings, fundraising training, in-person board meetings, annual staff retreat, Land Trust Alliance Rally.
  • Ability to set priorities, problem solve, manage a portfolio of numerous public awareness, project-specific and general fundraising projects across multiple western states, and meet hard deadlines.
  • Ability to write project grant or loan applications and manage all reporting requirements.
  • Very detail oriented, with ability to present projects in a clear, concise, written and verbal manner.
  • Ability to work collaboratively with a small team and be willing and flexible to assist with additional requests for help as needed.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Outlook, Blackbaud eTapestry, Dropbox file-sharing.

Please submit a cover letter and resume to:
Applications will be accepted until December 31, 2021. The position begins February 1, 2022.

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

Field Season Comes to a Close in the High Country

Nov. 5, 2021 – It seems like field season began just yesterday, a window of opportunity to get out on the ground in the high country and inspect properties we are working diligently to acquire. Yet, the sight of fresh snow during a recent site visit to one of our favorite places in Colorado – the Weminuche Wilderness — was a reminder that the window is closing.

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

Fresh Snow Paints the Ridgetop in the Weminuche Wilderness

With the popular Whitehead Trail running through the 30-acre property, this acquisition is a high priority for the Trust. At an elevation above 10,000 feet, it won’t be long before this property is buried in the white stuff, and we were grateful to complete a property inspection with staff from the U.S. Forest Service and an independent professional appraiser. A site visit delay translates to a delay in purchasing the land, and we got to this one in the nick of time.

Each year, we travel across the American west to inspect private inholdings and evaluate what it will take to remove them from the surrounding wilderness. In our soon to be released annual report, we share details of the 667 acres we acquired and more than 1,700 acres we transferred during the past fiscal year. All of which started with a site visit similar to the one we just completed in the Weminuche Wilderness.

Each step of our process, from site visit to purchase to transfer to public ownership, would not happen without the generosity of our supporters. Thank you for providing us with the critical resources to get the job done. We hope you see your own good work reflected in our report.

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Protecting Silver Creek in the Wild Sky Wilderness

Oct. 1, 2021 – The North Cascades Ecosystem in Washington state is one of America’s largest expanses of wild public lands. Straddling the North Cascade Mountain range from Canada to Snoqualmie Pass, the ecosystem covers 2.6 million acres of rugged slopes, snowy peaks and lush, old-growth forests.

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Silver Creek flows through jagged rocks and lush undergrowth on its way to the Skykomish River

Designated in 2008, the Wild Sky Wilderness is home to precious, carbon-rich trees — unsung heroes in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, it is also riddled with old mining claims that potentially open up the area to mining and logging.

The Wilderness Land Trust has been working diligently to acquire these claims in order to make the landscape whole. Our latest acquisition is a 39-acre parcel within the creek drainage that flows out of Silver Lake in the adjacent Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.

Silver Creek catches close to 200 inches of moisture annually, providing critical water flow for salmon that spawn in the connected North Fork Skykomish River. Our latest acquisition, the eighth in this drainage, will permanently protect vital fish habitat, and we are actively working to acquire several more properties in the near future.

Visit our Washington state projects page for more information on our work in the Evergreen State and as always, thank you for your support that allows us to continue this critical work.