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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.

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Another Wilderness Designation Now Complete

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes Wilderness – Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management WA & OR

August 20, 2021 – The Juniper Dunes Wilderness is a land of extremes – from windswept snowdrifts in the winter to triple digit temperatures in the summer. But despite its seemingly harsh climate and lack of water for flora and fauna, plenty of animals thrive within its boundaries: mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, skunks, weasels, porcupines, birds of prey (including the endangered Ferruginous Hawk), songbirds and yes, rattlesnakes. The area also contains the U.S. northernmost growth of western juniper trees, which grow among the vast, windswept sand dunes.

Sand dunes, Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management

Today, the Juniper Dunes Wilderness in southeast Washington state is officially 236 acres larger with the recent transfer of our property to the Bureau of Land Management. While the transition to public ownership is always exciting for us, this project is particularly significant because it means this federally designated wilderness is now complete.

Cactus in Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management

 

Thank you for making all of this possible. With your generous support, we have now helped complete 17 designated wilderness areas throughout the United States, removing forever the threat of commercial, industrial and residential development within their boundaries.

 

Sunrise, Juniper Dunes

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management 

Sandy landscape, Juniper Dunes Wilderness

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management WA & OR

Wild Sky Wilderness

Connecting With Our Projects Online

June 18, 2021 – Our team is hard at work protecting federally designated wilderness across the western United States by removing the threat of private development, mining and other uses inconsistent with wilderness conservation. With the breadth of our work, it is hard to keep you, our  supporters, informed without flooding your inbox.

Wild Sky Wilderness

The Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington’s North Cascades

To make it easier for you to stay updated on our work in each state, we have added a new state by state project section to our website. I invite you to visit our new Washington state project page, where you’ll find information on the challenges this state faces and what we are doing to protect it.

Washington’s North Cascades are particularly vulnerable to activities that threaten the resiliency of the land, making it more susceptible to the impacts of a changing climate. With ten projects underway in the state — including seven within the Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas in the North Cascades — we are removing these threats and permanently protecting this land for future generations to discover, explore and enjoy.

Stay tuned for additional state by state project pages on our website in the coming weeks!

 

The old-growth temperate rainforests of western Washington are unsung heroes in the fight against climate change, storing vast amounts of carbon that would otherwise warm the planet. Photo: Looking down Silver Creek drainage on one of the Trust's active projects

Adding Wilderness to Washington’s North Cascades

April 23, 2021 –  The Wild Sky and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness areas, located within the fabled North Cascades ecosystem, serve as ideal wildlife habitat for the charismatic gray wolf, Canada lynx, wolverine and even the occasional grizzly bear. And yet, there are a large number of privately owned parcels located within the boundary of these federally designated wilderness areas that threaten their resiliency and leave them vulnerable to mineral extraction, logging and development. Water flows through the Trust's Evergreen Property

Our goal is to systematically acquire all of these inholdings, stitching together the fabric of the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson and all designated wilderness areas in the state of Washington until they are free of the threat of private development.

The Trust has 10 land acquisition and transfer projects underway in Washington state and we need your help today to complete these projects.

Generous donors have already committed $200,000 towards our fundraising goal of $400,000. This month, we are launching a North Cascades – Washington Wilderness fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $200,000 needed before our Sept. 1 deadline.

Please join our efforts by visiting our GoFundMe or making a donation directly to The Wilderness Land Trust. If you have specific questions about this work, please don’t hesitate to email or give me a call.

Thank you for your generous support of our work. With your help, 1,175 acres of new wilderness will be added to the Evergreen State, permanently protecting this land from private development, now and for future generations.

 

 

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.

Stitching Together Washington’s Wilderness

June 12, 2020 – Imagine a tree that took root 300 years ago, is wider than a car at its base

My recent visit to a project site in Washington’s Wild Sky Wilderness

WLT President Brad Borst on a  recent visit to a project site in Washington’s Wild Sky Wilderness

and nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty. There are few places in the U.S. where trees have the opportunity to grow this big and this old. One such pocket is in Washington state’s North Cascade Mountains, an area known for its rich diversity of plant and animal species, including old growth forests.

Designated wilderness within the North Cascades, including the Glacier Peak Wilderness, protect old growth forest, salmon and steelhead spawning streams, critical forested watersheds and an abundance of wildlife.

The Wilderness Land Trust made its first Washington state land acquisition within the North Cascades in 1998 when we purchased 62 acres in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. Since then, we’ve acquired 17 properties totaling 946 acres in Washington state and we currently have seven active projects underway.

Our work in Washington state continues to be a priority, with nearly 3,000 acres of private land remaining within the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson, Buckhorn, Glacier Peak and Mount Baker Wilderness areas. These private parcels bring the potential for road and property development, mining and logging.

By systematically acquiring these private lands, we are stitching together the landscape, one project at a time, eventually making these wilderness areas whole. I encourage you to check out our project map to find out more about our work in the Northwest and other parts of the country. And if you have the time, I guarantee a trip to one of Washington’s old growth forests won’t disappoint!