About the West
About the West Region
Despite being one of the fastest growing regions in the United States, land trusts in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska have protected thousands of acres across wide-ranging coastal, mountain, and inland valley landscapes.
The land trust community is well-established, respected, and has been effective in maintaining the characteristics that mark this diverse region which includes vast open rangelands in Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, a vast network of rivers and streams in Idaho and coastal rainforests in Washington and Alaska. The historic Lewis and Clark trail crosses both the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range here, before finding its conclusion at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Locally-based land trusts provide robust grass-roots foundation while several organizations have achieved national prominence for the scope of their land conservation and the breadth of their leadership. Landscape-level initiatives, peer networks, and open communication are translating into effective collaborations across the region. Additionally, large scale industrial timberlands projects factor prominently in conservation priorities.
Working in a rapidly developing part of the country, land trusts in Texas, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico have significantly increased the number of acres conserved in recent years. In fact southwest land trusts lead the country in terms percent increase in private land conservation in the last decade.
In this often arid landscape, water issues are a major factor in most if not all conservation projects. Biodiversity is also critical as is the need to protect family farms and ranches. Southwestern land trusts have successfully demonstrated that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, the southwest is home to the first cattlemen’s land trust association in the country.
In one area of the Southwest that has faced challenges, Colorado has been has been a powerful leader influencing public policy.
The diversity of this region is striking, from arid Nevada lands to Hawaii’s tropical, volcanic, and agricultural lands the range of habitats and landscape types is broad. Threatened landscapes include old-growth redwoods, coastal estuaries, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and productive rangeland.
The majority of land trusts in the Pacific are located in California. California land trusts have provided advocacy leadership with their proactive approach to both state politics and local grassroots action. Boosted by a long standing history of volunteerism at the local level, the state has consistently been a national leader in terms of acres conserved.