Conservation in the West
The Alliance’s Western region covers a vast landscape — from arid deserts to old growth redwood rainforests, from Arctic tundra to Hawaii’s tropical islands, from productive rangelands to wildlife-rich estuaries. It encompasses wide plains, stunning canyons, high mountain ranges, dramatic volcanoes and active glaciers. This region spans 14 states: California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii.
The ecologically rich and culturally significant lands of the American West face serious challenges. The region includes nine of the top 10 fastest-growing states, as well as nine of the top 20 fastest growing metro areas — leading to rapid loss of open land to development. Land in the West is also impacted by altered river flows, climate change and oil and gas exploration.
Meeting these challenges depends, in large part, on private land conservation, since 54% of Western land (outside of Alaska) is in private ownership. It is the choices of the farmer, rancher or forester that will largely define our natural heritage in the future. This is precisely why land trusts are so important. Their local knowledge and relationships allow them to connect and work with landowners in ways that would be difficult for a government agency. .These partnerships demonstrate that productive working landscapes can also be healthy natural ecosystems. Notably, the West is home to the nation’s first cattlemen’s land trust association. In addition, many land trusts in the West are strengthening relationships with Native American tribes, supporting good stewardship of tribal lands.
Approximately 260 Alliance member land trusts work in the Western region, with over 100 in California. While the land trust community is well-established, many land trusts are relatively young; approximately 85% were formed since 1995. Land trusts in the West have been working together to address big challenges, collaborating through landscape-level initiatives, peer networks and open communication. Federal policy, including conservation funding and tax incentives, is a high priority for land trusts in the West, particularly in rural areas without local funding. So far, Western land trusts have protected over 9 million acres.
Alliance Western Programs
The Land Trust Alliance’s Western program focuses on growing land trusts’ capacity, supporting accreditation efforts, fostering collaboration and coordinating political advocacy. We offer:
- Newsletter: bi-monthly e-mails with news, updates, success stories and info on upcoming events and trainings
- Grants: cost-share support for collaboration, organizational development, strategic planning and accreditation prep
- Assessment: guidance identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses and getting ready for the accreditation process
- Training: workshops and webinars, as well as customized technical assistance
- Resources: case studies, reports, guides and more, accessed through The Learning Center
- Ask an Expert: Bi-monthly conference calls for land trust staff and board with experts in communications, finance, fundraising and management.
- Organizational Help Desk: Complimentary, one-on-one consultations by phone with a Western land conservation expert
Get in Touch
Connect with the land trust community in the West: