The Wilderness Land Trust is focused on one program - acquiring and transferring private land within designated wilderness to public ownership.
The National Wilderness Preservation System is a refuge for animals, plants, clean water, clean air and a foundation for 21st century conservation. It may hold the key to future conservation and the tools for adapting to global climate change. However, the system is still filled with holes, 180,000 acres of private lands that fracture the whole. Across the country there are plans to develop mines, retreats, logging operations and resorts deep within wilderness holdings, fragmenting a resource that cannot afford to be lost.
The Trust's continuing mission to eliminate these pockets of inholdings and create a seamless wilderness system is vital, echoing the spirit and intent of the original Wilderness Act. The Wilderness Land Trust is the only national organization dedicated solely to buying these lands and adding them to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
The Wilderness Land Trust is the only national conservation organization solely dedicated to purchasing privately owned lands (inholdings) within designated and proposed wilderness areas and then transferring them to public ownership to complete designated and proposed wilderness areas, or directly protect wilderness values. Since its inception in 1992, the Trust has protected 493 parcels, comprising more than 52,700 acres of wilderness inholdings in 108 designated and proposed wilderness areas. The Wilderness Land Trust is responsible for completing 16 wilderness areas by removing the last privately held lands within their wilderness boundaries (as of October 2020).
During this past year, The Wilderness Land Trust acquired nearly 3,300 acres of private lands in in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington state. At the same time, we worked diligently to transfer more than 700 acres over to public ownership in California, Oregon and Colorado. But that's not all.
At any given time the Trust has dozens of projects under development - 37 at the time of this writing - that, combined with a lot of hard work, tenacity, and patience, could eventually become more wilderness in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.
In Colorado, The Wilderness Land Trust has worked hard to protect the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. In the last 3 years, we purchased 19.3 acres of private inholdings and transferred 8.7 of them to the US Forest Service to be incorporated into the surrounding wilderness. The Panama-Principal Lode parcel on Independence Pass held the last development rights in this part of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. With significant local support, we purchased the parcel in August 2020. Your Colorado Gives Day gift will turn this into public land.