The Wilderness Land Trust

Today, the number of private inholding acres in the lower 48 states is less than half of what it was when we began in 1992. Approximately 176,000 acres of inholdings remain, and we have a big, bold, ambitious goal to remove all remaining threats to wilderness over the next two decades.

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General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Wildlife Enthusiasts


The Wilderness Land Trust is focused on one program - acquiring and transferring private land (inholdings) 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.


Evidence of Program's Success

Within designated wilderness in the lower 48 states remain nearly 180,000 acres of private lands in 2,883 parcels. That's 2,883 private owners who have a different idea for managing land within designated wilderness than as a source of clean water, clean air, habitat and a refuge for quiet recreation.

Since the first inventory was done in 1992, the acreage has gone down from an estimated 400,000, even though 220 new wilderness and an additional 14.5 million acres have been added. We're over half way to being able to say - Yup, it's done - Designated wilderness is secure.

A 2018 Success Story:

According to Merriam Webster, El Dorado is defined as a place of fabulous wealth or opportunity. As we know, opportunity and wealth are in the eye of the beholder.

Hopeful miners saw the El Dorado Lode in the Weminuche Wilderness of Colorado as a potential gold mine, their own "City of Gold." However, like many mining properties throughout the west, the El Dorado Lode turned out to be a bust.

When the land fell short of their dreams, the long time landowners turned to The Wilderness Land Trust, and we purchased this 10 acre property for a fair yet modest price. Over the past two years, we have worked with our partners at the US Forest Service to complete and secure this wilderness, and we are thrilled to report that the El Dorado Lode has been successfully added to the wilderness that surrounds it.

This purchase and transfer ensures the protection of the Whitehead Trail that crosses it, above Verde Lake, assuring hikers access to one of our country's most dramatic and beautiful wilderness areas along the Continental Divide. Although it was never realized as a city of gold, the El Dorado Lode will remain rich with the plants and animals that inhabit it, and provide a wealth of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts for generations to come.

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