Tag Archive for: Wilderness Land Trust

Zack Porter photographing Trout Creek

Another Santa Lucia Wilderness Success Story

July 9, 2021 – The Santa Lucia Wilderness is located near San Luis Obispo, California, and is a unique refuge for plants, animals and humans that covers the interior coastal range mountains. Designated in 1978, it totals 20,241 acres and is known for its mountain peaks, chaparral-covered slopes and ancient oaks. This landscape is part of more than 1.7 million acres of protected coastal landscapes that provide resilience to a rapidly changing climate. Santa Lucia Wilderness

Thanks to your generous support, The Wilderness Land Trust has just purchased 148 acres in the Los Padres National Forest that will add to that total and help provide an important wildlife connection between the existing Santa Lucia Wilderness and a proposed wilderness to the northeast.

Our Trout Creek IV Project builds on our purchase and transfer of three prior properties — Trout Creek I, II, III — that total more than 800 acres, and provides a key link to the planned California Condor Trail, a 400-mile route connecting the southern and northern parts of the Los Padres National Forest. The property’s watershed supports critical habitat for a number of endangered, threatened and sensitive species, including mountain lion, black bear, two-stripe garter snake, California spotted owl, western pond turtle, brown and rainbow trout, and migratory song birds.

Again, thank you for your support of our work to protect federally designated wilderness along the coast of California and ensuring another success story to share with family and friends!


A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

Little Castle Lake Permanently Protected

June 25, 2021 – Our 2019 purchase of the 637-acre Little Castle Lake property in California represented the largest remaining private parcel in the Castle Crags Wilderness. This land straddles the wilderness boundary and includes a portion of Castle Lake and all of Little Castle Lake.

A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

A hiker pauses at Heart Lake to admire Mt. Shasta

To people familiar with this area, this purchase meant the protection of the hiking trail to Heart Lake, and access to lake activities, fishing and hunting. It also meant the property would be protected 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.

We are thrilled to tell you that this property has officially transferred to public ownership through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. We are also grateful for the help of our project partners at the Siskiyou Land Trust, Mt. Shasta Trails Association, Conservation Alliance and U.S. Forest Service, who contributed to the success of this project.

The Castle Crags Wilderness encompasses more than 12,000 acres and is located at the south end of the 11 million acre Klamath Siskiyou wild area that covers northern California and southern Oregon and connects the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra through six wilderness areas. 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.

If you have the opportunity, we encourage you to visit this beautiful region of California and experience the new official trail leading from Castle Lake to Heart Lake.


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!


kayaking on Windham Bay

Achievement in Alaska

May 7, 2021 –  In 2017 the Trust purchased the largest remaining private inholding in the Chuck River Wilderness in Alaska. This project was particularly meaningful for our dedicated lands staff because it represented our first land acquisition project in Alaska.

The 154-acre property is located at the head of Windham Bay, approximately three hours southeast of Juneau by boat and across from the Admiralty Island National Monument. It includes a complex of eight mining claims dating back to 1869, and evidence of past mining activity can still be found amongst a few discarded and rusting pieces of equipment on the property.

Thanks to your generous support, this property now has a brighter future as federally designated wilderness. This week we transferred this land to the U.S. Forest Service for permanent protection as part of the Chuck River Wilderness, a rugged, untamed rainforest home to grizzly and black bear, moose, wolves and many other species.

By acquiring this property, we eliminated the potential for future mining within the wilderness designation. Upon transfer to public ownership, we have expanded the size of the Chuck River Wilderness and enhanced a public recreation experience by preserving the scenic panorama of Windham Bay.

Acquisition of wilderness inholdings remains the highest priority for land acquisition in the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan. With your support, we will continue our partnership with the USFS to help achieve that goal and create further wilderness protection in Alaska.


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.



Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar

The Trust Welcomes a New Board Member

April 2021 – We are thrilled to introduce Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar, PhD, as a new addition to our board of directors. Joaquin is originally from Mexico and lives in Tucson, AZ, where he works for a watershed management organization as a cultural ecologist. Joaquin splits his professional time between Mexico and Arizona implementing community-based approaches to watershed management, river restoration, geo-tourism, conservation and best practices for ranching communities.

Joaquin Murrieta-Saldivar

Joaquin says he was drawn to wilderness at an early age when his mother taught him how to listen to the Sonora River and asked him if the river was happy to be flowing toward the ocean. He says the concept of the happiness of rivers stuck with him and perhaps led to his 20+ year career of working on watersheds.

When asked what drew him to The Wilderness Land Trust, Joaquin had this to say:

“Wilderness needs humans in order to be wild now. Humans are working to maintain wilderness and I appreciate the Trust’s relationship with public and private lands. I’m very interested in how the Trust can share the values of wilderness with the rest of society through stories, education, respect and connectivity. Nature and wilderness, it’s all a part of us. The closer we are to nature, the better we are as humans.”

Please join us in welcoming Joaquin to The Wilderness Land Trust family as our newest board member.

A Special Field Trip to Achenbach Canyon

On a hike in the Achenbach Canyon this week (left to right): Patrick Nolan, executive director, Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument; U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico; Aimee Rutledge, vice president and senior lands specialist, The Wilderness Land Trust

April 9, 2021 – This week we had the opportunity to visit our 109-acre project adjacent the Organ Mountains Wilderness with U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Aimee Rutledge, our vice president and senior lands specialist, hiked the Achenbach Canyon Trail with the senator, as well as project partners from the Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument and Bureau of Land Management.

Senator Heinrich has been a champion for the Trust’s New Mexico projects and passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, as well as a national leader in the initiative to protect 30 percent of U.S. land and ocean by 2030.

During the visit, Senator Heinrich had this to say about our Achenbach Canyon project: “This is a huge win for public access to our public lands. Easier public access to this trailhead will immediately put the rugged scenery and unique desert plant life in Achenbach Canyon on the map as a must-see hiking destination in the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument. I’m proud that the Land and Water Conservation Fund — which I helped to fully and permanently fund as part of the Great American Outdoors Act —  made it possible for us to secure permanent public access to the entrance of the Achenbach Canyon Trail. I am grateful to The Wilderness Land Trust and to the Friends of Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks for all the hard work and support that went into protecting this ecosystem for all of us to enjoy.”

Thanks to supporters like you, the Trust closed on this land purchase this week. Stay tuned for more good news coming out of New Mexico and several other western states soon.

For more information on our hike with Senator Heinrich, check out this article in the Las Cruces Sun News.

Perspective is How You Look at Things

March 19, 2021 – The Sangre de Cristo Mountains within the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness in New Mexico are 20 million years old, yet they are one of the youngest mountain ranges on earth.

The Wilderness Land Trust’s Columbine Hondo property

Designated in 2014, the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness contains the headwaters of the Rio Hondo and Red River, both major tributaries of the upper Rio Grande. While our Commodore Lode property that leads into this wilderness may only be 20 acres in size, we helped protect the larger watershed within the 44,372-acre wilderness when we purchased it in 2019.

We are pleased to announce we have transferred our Commodore Lode property over to public ownership as part of the national forest directly adjacent the designated wilderness. This single project adds to our history of success protecting designated wilderness in New Mexico since 2004, including the Gila, Columbine Hondo and Sabinoso Wilderness Areas, as well as the El Malpais National Conservation Area.

Thank you for providing the vital funding to support our work. From our perspective, the Trust couldn’t protect our nation’s treasured wilderness areas without your generous support.

Please help us spread the word about the Trust’s work by sharing this email and encouraging your friends and family to sign up for our e-news.

Conserving Canyon Country

February 26, 2021 – New Mexico is home to some of our nation’s wildest landscapes. However, only 2.5 percent of the total land area is protected as designated wilderness.

Wilderness Land Trust staff and project partners on a recent site visit to the Achenbach Canyon in Organ Mountains Wilderness, New Mexico

The Organ Mountains Wilderness is a beautiful and popular destination, known for its spring wildflowers, seasonal streams that flow through rugged canyon bottoms, abundant wildlife and spectacular views of the rugged Organ Mountains.

To ensure these splendid characteristics remain intact, The Wilderness Land Trust is working to acquire a 109-acre parcel at the entrance of the Achenbach Canyon, as well as save public access to a popular trail into the designation. This project is our second in the region of the Organ Mountains Wilderness. In July 2020, we purchased nearly 100 acres of private land straddling the boundary of the wilderness area, including a series of mining claims that had been zoned for a future housing development.

Braving the chill air and occasional snow flurry, Aimee Rutledge, our vice president and senior lands specialist, joined Sylvia Ulloa from U.S. Senator Heinrich’s office, author David Soules, and Patrick Nolan, executive director for Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness, on a recent site visit to the property to review and coordinate the critical steps required to purchase this property.

Stay tuned for more exciting news as this project moves forward. If you are interested in helping us secure the property or would like to learn more about this project, I encourage you to visit our Achenbach Canyon GoFundMe campaign.

More Protection for Wild Sky Wilderness

Beautiful Silver Lake is a popular hiking destination in Washington

February 12, 2021 – Exploring the Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington state is like stepping back in time before early settlers began to dramatically alter the landscape. Thickly forested slopes and valleys lie in the shadow of high jagged peaks, protecting nearly all of the flora and fauna that existed hundreds of years ago. Old-growth trees and endangered wildlife species thrive as a result of its remote location, mind-boggling amount of annual precipitation and permanent protection via wilderness designation.

Unfortunately, the landscape is also riddled with mining claims from a time when resource extraction helped to fuel the growth of nearby Seattle and its surrounding area. Development of these claims threaten the very characteristics for which the designation was established.

In response, The Wilderness Land Trust has worked diligently for more than two decades to acquire these claims. Thanks to your generous support, we have purchased nearly 1,500 acres in designated wilderness areas throughout Washington, including the Wild Sky, Henry M. Jackson, Buckhorn, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker and Juniper Dunes Wilderness areas.

Adding to this total is another 31-acre parcel we recently purchased in the heart of the Wild Sky Wilderness, thereby removing the threat of mining or private development on this property forever. Additional protection is on the way this year, and I look forward to sharing more good news as several new projects develop.

Learn how you can help us protect this special northwest landscape and others throughout the western United States.