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Grants in Action: Preserving Vital Lands of the Pacific Northwest

Conserved land is vital to the health and safety of our communities, not only now, but for future generations. The land around us provides water, food, clean air and beautiful recreational spaces, and when land is well-managed, it provides protection from natural disasters and helps keep climate change in check.

The Murdock Trust has partnered with land trusts for decades to ensure that the beautiful lands of the Pacific Northwest are protected today and into the future. Land trusts are an important part of the nonprofit ecosystem, working to protect our lands through conservation, stewardship and restoration, building awareness and educating the public, and engaging volunteers. The land trusts we partner with work together with local government, private landowners and each other to protect millions of acres across the Pacific Northwest.

The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust protects north-central Washington’s vital waterways and lands.

In north-central Washington, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust is dedicated to the region’s lands and waters. Its service area extends from the Cascade Crest in Chelan County, through the Columbia River Breaks, to the shrub-steppe lands of Douglas County and into Kittitas County. Since 1985 CDLT has permanently protected more than 7,000 acres.

Volunteers help Columbia Land Trust with an amphibian egg mass survey at India Jack Slough in Washington.

Farther south in Washington State is Columbia Land Trust, one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest. CLT identifies and conserves the most important and threatened land and has conserved more than 29,000 acres in Oregon and Washington. The Klickitat Canyon Community Forest, a 5,600-acre parcel of land that CLT acquired with help from a Murdock grant, connects about 2 million acres of protected land and serves as a wildlife corridor.

Alaska’s Great Land Trust conserves lands and waterways with ecological and community value, like Wasilla Creek. Photo by Carl Johnson/Great Land Trust.

Throughout southcentral Alaska, Great Land Trust works with landowners, agencies, communities and local government to conserve lands and waterways with ecological and community value. During the annual Murdock retreat in 2015, our staff visited the Campbell Creek Estuary and saw firsthand the beautiful 60-acre piece of conserved land, which includes a critical tidal marsh habitat and coastal forest.

“Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and whole.” That’s the sentiment Vital Ground Foundation was founded upon 30 years ago. Photo by Robert Scriba.

In Montana, Vital Ground Foundation protects and restores land habitat for the conservation of grizzly bears and other native species. Founded almost 30 years ago on the sentiment, “Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and wh0le,” VGF has conserved nearly 620,000 acres of habitat. The purchase of Glen Willow with the help of a Murdock grant has given the bears lush landscape to help avoid the snow, cold temperatures and food scarcity that come with the spring and fall. This is just a snapshot of the critically important work of the land trusts in our region. We invite you to take a deeper look into their work and the work that other land trusts are doing. You might just find that your local land trust has made it possible for you to kayak on a neighboring river or hike your favorite trails. Take a look at our recent Grants Awarded to explore the land trusts near you.