Working together to save the West we love

Last week, a rancher friend asked me how the Western Landowners Alliance (WLA) could help him, and how he could help WLA. We both share the same vision for the West — a West with its wide spaces still intact, with prosperous farms and ranches, and places where wildlife can still roam. A West that invites young people back to the land and back to our communities with prospects for a strong future. We both agreed that this vision is simply not possible without leadership from landowners and the working lands community.

Private and working lands are the cornerstones of the West and their fate is in our hands. No individual can do it alone. But, together, we can shape the future we want for our lands, families and communities. That’s why your support is so important. Through WLA, land stewards across the West are coming together to shape that future. We’re bringing thoughtful, positive, well-informed leadership to the public policies that directly impact private and working lands.

That includes creating a federal Farm Bill that works for the West and improving economic and regulatory support for sound stewardship of our lands, wildlife and natural resources. WLA also provides a powerful West-wide network of peers and experts that enable landowners to build relationships, access technical and financial resources, and learn from one another to improve their land and avoid time-consuming and expensive mistakes. As just one example, through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, WLA is bringing ranchers and partners in eastern New Mexico together to improve soil health, lesser-prairie chicken and pronghorn habitat and the ranch operations bottom lines.

Your generous support – joined with other supporting members across the West – is at the very heart of the recent successes that we have highlighted in the pages of this newsletter.

So here’s to a movement of people dedicated to ensuring the West we love is here and healthy long into the future. As we head into another summer out on the range, I invite you to recommit to this partnership, this Alliance. None of our work is possible without your generous support.

- Lesli Allison, Executive Director

Lesli Headshot (1)

Landowner-led research is driving change in the West. Millions of dollars in government resources are now going to the practical, science-backed techniques and tools that actually make a difference for wildlife and working lands every day. Our collaborative approach makes it possible.

Climate smart grants to benefit producers

WLA has been awarded three Climate Smart Agricultural Commodity grants from the USDA, providing nearly $15 million in federal funding to support producers in the Southwest. Grant funds will be used by project partners to expand and develop commodity markets that return more dollars to ranching families that are making investments to enhance grazing lands, including improved soil health, water quality, and increased biodiversity. Just as importantly, we are building regional networks of producers to share climate-smart strategies for raising livestock and pathways for marketing value-added meat to consumers, so that ranchers can continue to steward the working lands that provide services for us all. Partnering with WLA on the grants are Working Lands Conservation, the Central Colorado Conservancy, Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association and the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance (INCA).

Historic win in New Mexico!

The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund became law in New Mexico in March. The fund is a bipartisan product of five years of negotiations among a broad coalition of legislators, state agencies, community stakeholders and non-governmental organizations. As landowners, we know that the fate of New Mexico is directly tied to the land and natural resources that sustain us all. That’s why WLA has made it a priority over the past five years to establish permanent funding for conservation in New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund is an investment in our shared future. As WLA executive director Lesli Allison said, “New Mexicans from every part of the state and from all walks of life came together in support of this. It will enable us to restore our watersheds, provide for increased water security, improve agricultural productivity, conserve and restore soils and wildlife habitats, protect cultural resources and increase outdoor recreational opportunities for all New Mexicans.” The historic bill, funded with an initial $100 million appropriation, will create the state’s first dedicated and long-term funding stream for land and water conservation. Thanks to bipartisan support, SB9 passed with large majorities in both the House and Senate. The bill was sponsored by Sens. Steven Neville (R), Peter Wirth (D) and Rep. Nathan Small (D). At the signing, Rep. Small said, “This coalition came together and set aside past differences to focus on future possibilities.”

WLA leads coalition pushing for carnivore conflict reduction funding in federal budget

WLA and 18 other organizations, ranging from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Defenders of Wildlife to the Public Lands Council and American Sheep Industry Association, delivered a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees requesting full funding for conflict prevention and depredation compensation provisions included in the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act (ACE) of 2020. If funded, the ACE Act program would provide $10 million annually in grants to state agencies to supplement existing livestock depredation compensation programs and $5 million annually in grants for non-lethal conflict reduction work. These funds would provide critical support to producers stewarding working lands in the face of expanded wildlife-livestock conflict. 

Season One of Working Wild U podcast wins gold from extension professionals

Working Wild U, a co-production of WLA and Montana State University Extension, is a proud part of Natural Resources University, a podcast network focused on delivering science-based information for natural resource management. As part of this outstanding network, our show earned the gold award for Outstanding Educational Materials Award for radio/podcasts by the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals! Created in partnership with Montana State University Extension's Dr. Jared Beaver, the first season of Working Wild U explores wolves in the West. You can listen to the full season now wherever you get your podcasts. Season two is in the works. Contact Louis Wertz at louis@westernlandowners.org about sponsorship packages!

Standing room only at WLA-organized symposium on ecosystem service markets at range management annual conference

WLA demystified developing ecosystem service markets during our daylong symposium at the annual Society for Range Management meeting. Our session was practical, land-owner-led, and brought, in the words of one participant, “some much needed fun” to an often weighty and challenging topic. Speakers discussed credit development and market nuts and bolts and provided insight on how to launch projects. Plus, we addressed the widespread doubt that semi-arid rangelands can sequester meaningful amounts of carbon, and explored market-based mechanisms that value the full suite of ecosystem services generated by whole and healthy rangelands.

WLA add field staff in Wyoming and Idaho thanks to vital support from private donors

Landowners in Wyoming and Idaho have more help accessing stewardship information, resources and support thanks to supporters in those states. Western Landowners Alliance welcomed Shaleas Harrison and Lane Justus as our newest resource coordinators, in Wyoming and Idaho respectively, this spring. Aside from a fresh contact to add to your address book, landowners can expect more in-person and online events tailored to local issues, a friendly ear to hear pressing management and policy concerns, and a stand-by guide to the many federal, state and non-governmental funding opportunities available to private land stewards. Lane Justus joins WLA after completing a Fulbright scholarship studying wild-life conflict reduction in Latin America and the Pacific Northwest. She lives (and works, when she can) on an organic farm and dairy in Glenns Ferry, Idaho. Shaleas Harrison’s ancestors began irrigating in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming over six generations ago. Despite a career connecting landowners to stewardship resources in Wyoming, she still helps out at the family farm outside of Powell during the summertime, setting tubes, pulling weeds, and operating equipment. These positions are possible thanks to the commitment of local landowners and funding partners. Thank you!

Webinar on Grassland CRP provides info to more than 300 landowners and managers

WLA’s Wyoming resource coordinator Shaleas Harrison convened an expert panel to provide the facts on the Grassland CRP enrollment opportunity West-wide in a webinar March 30. You can watch it now on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/@WesternLandownersAlliance


Western Landowners Alliance is one of only a few organizations that understands that conservation is not only about just the land – it’s the people and the land. Most of our endangered species are on private land, and it’s the people on private lands that have the most important role in saving them from extinction. WLA represents the West and the West needs WLA!

– Gwen Kolb, Retired, USFWS Partners program

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