Saving Lives by Saving Land

By on July 15, 2011 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust is one of the best-kept secrets in the constellation of organizations associated with The HSUS. This land trust, which forbids hunting and trapping on its properties, conserves habitat at 100 permanent wildlife sanctuaries in 38 states and eight foreign countries. These sanctuaries host all sorts of animals in forests, wetlands, high desert, lakes, grasslands, and even rainforests.

Woodpecker at a Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust sanctuary
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
A woodpecker at one of the 100 protected sanctuaries.

If you get a chance, take a look at the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust’s 2010 annual report. You’ll find stories of new sanctuaries in California, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Texas, as well as a special story about wolverines struggling for survival in the rugged mountains of Montana. In 2010, the Trust also supported the Working Dogs for Conservation program, the Buffalo Field Campaign, and other wildlife conservation and education projects. In an ongoing campaign against illegal poaching, the WLT donated robotic decoys to wildlife law enforcement in Maryland and Pennsylvania and co-sponsored dozens of rewards offered in poaching cases across the country.

One of the newly established sanctuaries is the Greensprings Wildlife Sanctuary in Ashland, Ore. It attracts a rich variety of wild animals and offers great hiking opportunities for people. Here’s the story from the property owner, Faye Weisler, who says she’s happy to know that her land will be protected forever through the trust:

Set within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the 154-acre Greensprings Wildlife Sanctuary and its wildlife are now protected by WLT. The area is noted for its biodiversity, and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail—which extends some 2,500 miles, connecting Canada and Mexico—traverses the sanctuary for one mile. Though high-grade logging had taken place on the property before Faye Weisler purchased it, the sweeping vistas from the summit answered her desire for space and peace and inspired her to buy the land and give it a chance to recover.

Weisler immediately felt a sense of home on the land, which she has often hiked, accompanied by her two rescued dogs. She also enjoyed encountering hikers on the trail and exchanging stories of wildlife seen along the way. The land is likewise home and a safe travel corridor for wildlife; a coyote dens near the pond; a black bear pads through the meadow; mountain lions yowl at night; and coyotes, deer, and elk use the sanctuary as a land bridge between mountain ranges.

Songbirds, woodpeckers, eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks, and great gray owls flourish here, and a seasonal pond attracts sandhill cranes—including a memorable pair that Weisler saw take to the air in unison when they were startled. Each flew off in a different direction, but by calling out and making short flights toward one another, they quickly reunited. Spring and summer wildflowers sweep over the land in shifting waves of color and composition—Douglas’s violets, Balsam daisies, Waterleaf sheltering delicate pink blossoms beneath their leaves, the pinks and purples of Wild delphiniums, Calypso orchids—attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

“I knew in my heart that I wanted to protect the land for wildlife, to know that they would have this refuge forever,” says Weisler, noting that she specifically looked for a land trust that would protect wildlife from hunting and trapping. “There are things for each one of us that rise to a certain level of importance,” she says, “This just wasn’t a choice. This land absolutely had to be protected in perpetuity for the animals, for the hikers, and for the people living close to it.”

You can find this story and many others in the full annual report.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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