The Conservation and Research Foundation continues to support the Western Lands Project (WLP) as one of the main U.S. organizations working to keep public lands public. WLP relies on a multifaceted strategy that includes government watchdogging, citizen outreach and education, advocacy and reform, and legal challenges. From improving projects at the grassroots level to shaping national policy, they are working to protect America’s national parks, forests, grasslands, and open spaces for the sake of future generations and for healthy ecosystems.

The public land deal process can stretch over many years. While some projects are on our docket for a few months, WLP tracks others for years as they wind through federal procedures. As a specific example, WLP continues to work with two Idaho grassroots organizations on a proposed exchange that would cede over 28,000 acres of National Forest land to Western Pacific Timber in exchange for more than 39,000 acres of clear-cut forest in the upper Lochsa River drainage. In November 2010, the revised Draft EIS was completed which included this option. The staff attorney for WLP submitted in-depth comments and continues to follow this deal closely and provide technical and legal assistance to local grassroots groups and concerned citizens.

Similar monitoring work is ongoing in a proposed land exchange within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in California, the Eagle Valley Land Exchange in Eagle County, Colorado, and a proposed land exchange between the BLM and Howell Petroleum Corporation in Wyoming. The WLP also has dozens of projects with a focus on citizen education and empowerment, policy reform and advocacy, and ongoing legal work including their longest-running legal battle challenging a proposed land exchange to expand an open-pit copper mine into adjacent wildlife corridors in Arizona’s White Canyon Resource Conservation Area.

For more information on the Western Lands Project, visit their web site here.