The Trust for Public Land Wins Environmental Award


In the March issue of Sunset magazine, editors called readers’ attention to the most endangered lands in the American West, and to the people and organizations working hard to save them. Included on the short list of 2012 Sunset Environmental Awards winners was The Trust for Public Land.

After reviewing what editors called a “barrage of emails” nominating various candidates and organizations, Sunset chose our conservation work as some of the best in the West. Saving the bio-diverse Montana Legacy land-part of the only remaining intact ecosystem in North America and one of the last unspoiled wild places on Earth-won us the award for (conservation of the) “Best Wild Kingdom.”

“Beyond the sheer, unprecedented scale of the Montana Legacy Project, the landscape, watersheds, biodiversity, and opportunities for public recreation are unparalleled here,” says Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land. “This is what conservation is all about.”

Our ongoing conservation work on Oahu’s North Shore and in the Colorado Wildlands was also singled out as two of “the most endangered lands in the West.”

Best Wild Kingdom

Belonging to the vast Crown of the Continent Ecosystem, the Montana Legacy lands are an important connector of this vital stretch of the Northern Rockies. Threatened species like the Canada lynx, grizzly bear, wolverine, and bull trout all call it home, but not a single plant or animal species has gone extinct here since the days of Lewis & Clark.

“Montana is often called ‘the last best place,’ says Deb Love, Northern Rockies Director. “Crown of the Continent is globally significant and provides critical habitat and migratory corridors for endangered species. Not to mention the outdoor recreation we enjoy here-this is America’s playground.”

When Plum Creek Timber Company, the largest private landowner in the country, put the Montana Legacy lands up for sale, this habitat oasis was suddenly in danger of being re-landscaped into ranchettes and vacation homes. Falling into the hands of a developer would have caused serious damage; wildlife corridors disrupted, habitat destroyed, working lands compromised, and recreational lands closed to the public.

The Trust for Public Land, through an unprecedented partnership with The Nature Conservancy, local residents, and state and federal governments, purchased-and permanently protected-this rare wild kingdom. As the single largest private conservation land purchase in U.S history, the project will serve as a model for other community-based large landscape conservation in the Northern Rockies and beyond.
“The Montana Legacy Project changed the way we think about conservation,” says Love. “We worked together to protect working lands, precious wildlife habitat, and public recreation opportunities in a sustainable and successful community-based way.”

Sunset called it “money well spent,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Most Endangered Lands in the West

The pristine beaches of the popular North Shore of O’ahu, and the awe-inspiring wilderness surrounding Telluride and Crested Butte, are facing a pervasive threat of development. Recognizing the urgent need for conservation, Sunset proclaimed these stunning locales two of the “most endangered lands in the West.”

“It’s about maintaining the experience, natural beauty, and public access of these incredible areas,” said Hillary Merritt, project manager. “We’re working to get in front of development so we can protect the beautiful places people want to play.”

On the North Shore, 27 percent of the agricultural land is for sale, jeopordizing food security and coastal access. In Colorado’s high country, more and more second homes are being planned in pristine wilderness areas formerly reserved for wildlife and recreation. In a race against time and development, we’re working hard-with your help-to ensure these lands remain protected and open to the public.

Learn more about the North Shore and Colorado Wildlands.

Read about the awards on Sunset’s website.