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More Protection for the Sabinoso Wilderness

A view of the Lagartija Creek property

May 1, 2020 – Defined by sheer canyon walls, rugged prairielands and never ending skies, the Sabinoso Wilderness is a high desert paradise located in northeastern New Mexico. This remote treasure was designated as wilderness in 2009 and since 2013 we have been working to further protect it.

We are happy to report we have completed the purchase of Lagartija Creek, a 320-acre parcel of land with high desert bluffs and vistas for miles that abuts the Sabinoso Wilderness boundary. By purchasing this property, we removed the threat of private development in this special corner of the Sabinoso.

We have now purchased nearly 4,800 acres adjacent to and within designated wilderness and national conservation lands in New Mexico, including the 4,176-acre Rimrock Rose Ranch, a majority of which was donated to the Bureau of Land Management in 2017. This donation expanded the Sabinoso Wilderness by 25 percent and opened public access to it for the first time since its designation.

We are grateful to our supporters who, even during this challenging time, continue to champion our work to protect our nation’s wilderness areas. Please take the time to share our work. Now more than ever, a little good news can go a long way.

 

The Necessity of Wilderness

April 17, 2020 – Sunrise on a mountain peak, deer browsing in a nearby meadow, the stillness of water on an alpine lake. During a time of personal and professional upheaval for many of us, we can still count on the gift of wild places.

Wilderness is a necessity for us. It recharges our batteries, clears our minds and connects us to the rhythms of the natural world. How about you? When you step into wilderness, what fills your senses with wonder? What makes it important to you?

Even during this challenging time when many of us are unable to access the great outdoors, the Trust never waivers from its mission to remove the threat of development in the wilderness areas you love. Since our founding 28 years ago, we have permanently protected more than 52,000 acres and added 481 parcels to 106 wilderness areas now owned by you, the public.

Every parcel of land we’ve acquired and transferred has a compelling story behind it and our 2020 spring newsletter is an opportunity to share some of them with you, as well as shine a spotlight on just a few of the special people who help make it happen.

We hope you enjoy our Spring Newsletter and please share it with family and friends. After all, it is your investment in our work that makes these success stories possible.

 

Kelly Conde, Sawtooth Wilderness

The Trust Welcomes a New Team Member

 

April 3, 2020 – Please help us welcome Kelly Conde to The Wilderness Land Trust family as our new lands specialist. Kelly is an Idaho native who grew up exploring the many wilderness areas in her state. Her family vacations always required a tent and hiking boots as they backpacked the Sawtooth Wilderness, rafted the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and flew into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on a mail plane. Kelly says these experiences helped her understand the necessity of wild places “where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” They also led her to a career in conservation that started with the Idaho-based Sawtooth Society followed by the Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust where she worked as their conservation manager.

Kelly is based in Pocatello, Idaho, and she will oversee our projects located throughout the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

Thank you for your continued investment in our work, especially during this challenging time. We are grateful for the ability to continue our mission and vision to keep the promise of wilderness alive for you and future generations.

 

bear print in mud

The Arrival of Spring: A Message from Brad Borst, President

March 20, 2020 – Today is the first full day of spring, a season that ushers in longer days, warmer temperatures and a vibrant burst of activity as flora and fauna awaken from their long winter nap. It also happens to be my birthday.

How do I plan to celebrate?

After a dawn walk in the woods with my belligerent husky and friendly border collie (neither understand the concept of “social distancing”), I’m spending the rest of the day happily working alone from our small organizational office on Bainbridge Island. That’s how.

Right now my team and I are safe and sound, each of us working from individual locations and intensely focused on the details of several new land acquisition projects under development in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico, and the steps we need to take in order to add them to the surrounding wilderness.

You see, even during a time of profound change that COVID 19 is bringing to our country, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that some things remain the same — spring has arrived on time, your favorite wilderness area awaits as you practice your own brand of social distancing and everyone here at The Wilderness Land Trust is diligently working to fulfill our mission.

Thank you for sticking by us, even during this difficult time. We greatly appreciate your calls and emails to check in on us, your kind words of encouragement and your generous contributions to keep us moving forward. Please send me any images of you and your family this spring enjoying that special wild place in your heart, and I’ll be sure to share them with the team.

Happy spring everyone. Thank you for sharing this special day with me.

Sincerely,


Brad Borst, President
The Wilderness Land Trust

 

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.

Saving Arizona

Nov. 8, 2019 — The Wilderness Land Trust has closed on 80-acres of land in the Mt. Tipton Wilderness in Arizona. Thanks to generous supporters like you, we have removed the threat of private development on this property. Our next steps include working toward transferring it to public ownership and increasing the overall size of this wilderness area.

The result of our work in Arizona has now protected 63 parcels and 2,488 acres in five designated wilderness areas, including 17 parcels totaling 550 acres in the Mt. Tipton Wilderness.

The Mt. Tipton Wilderness is home to some of the most breathtaking views in Arizona. Many people visit this area to climb Mt. Tipton – at more than 7,000 feet, it’s quite a challenge! Others are drawn to the unique beauty of the Cerbat Mountains, dense with a diversity of vegetation that provides a stunning contrast to the gray and red rock outcroppings.

We are grateful for your continued investment in protecting wild places like the Mt. Tipton Wilderness. Please help us raise awareness of this project and others by sharing our work on Facebook.