The HSUS does so many things, and one of them is to run a growing and increasingly significant land trust program. The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (WLT), launched in 1993 and now with properties in nearly 40 states, recently acquired a conservation easement protecting a 240-acre parcel of land located in the Centennial Valley of Montana. This extraordinary property, at the very highest point in the drainage of the Missouri/Mississippi River system, will stay forever wild because of the generosity and foresight of the Demetriades family. It provides sanctuary to permanent or transitory populations of a spectacular array of species, including the grizzly bear, gray wolf, Canada lynx, wolverine, bald eagle, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Westslope cutthroat trout, and Arctic grayling.
Robert Koons/Wildlife Land Trust
The Demetriades Wildlife Sanctuary.
A high elevation watershed that encompasses some 385,000 acres along the Montana-Idaho border, the Centennial Valley is one of the country’s most significant conservation areas, with the valley featuring extensive wetlands and a largely intact ecological system that is home to a unique concentration of rare species. John Taft, a former HSUS board member and property owner and conservation advocate in the Centennial Valley, gave me a guided tour of the valley some years ago, and I was enthralled by the vast valley extending to the foothills of the broad mountains that frame the ecosystem. I wistfully remember spending several hours canoeing in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and I long to do it again.
The HSUS has had active hands-on programs, educational activities, and policy and legal agenda devoted to the interests of just about every one of the species mentioned above—so, it is especially exciting for me to add the habitat protection piece to our portfolio of work for these creatures. Across the nation, we have been instrumental in helping to protect millions of acres of wildlife habitat, in fulfillment of the vision superbly articulated by our late WLT colleague John F. Kullberg, of the urgent need for “shelters without walls.” To date, we’ve helped to create more than 100 permanent wildlife sanctuaries in 37 states and seven foreign countries, sanctuaries where recreational and commercial hunting—and a variety of practices threatening to animals and their habitat—will always be prohibited.
We best celebrate wild spaces and the animals who inhabit them by protecting them. I hope you’ll join our efforts to protect habitat for wild animals either by learning more about wildlife and habitat protection and about opportunities to preserve your land, by becoming a volunteer sanctuary monitor, or by making a contribution to the Trust.