From the Spring 2021 issue of Wild Works

Wilderness Workshop is excited to announce a new initiative to protect wild public lands: the Colorado Wildlands Project!

Nearly 2,000 feet tall, the Palisade near Gateway, CO, is one of many stunning redrock formations on land managed by the BLM. Photo by Jon Mullen.

The Wildlands Project will protect public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in western Colorado. Colorado’s 8.3 million acres of BLM-administered public lands make up one-third of the federal public lands in our state, yet only 8% of these lands are permanently protected, dramatically less than other public lands types in the state. In addition to BLM public lands being underrepresented in the conservation system, these lands are critical for climate adaptation and ecosystem resilience.

The Colorado Wildlands Project wields policy, legal, political, organizing and communications expertise to protect and defend BLM wildlands on the Colorado Plateau.

The diverse lands the Wildlands Project will focus on include the stunning redrock of the Dolores River, the rolling sagebrush steppe of the Dinosaur region, and the colorful cliffs and maroon sandstone formations nestled below the Flat Tops in the Colorado River Valley. These lands are Núu-agha-tuvu-pu (Ute) ancestral lands.

The Wildlands Project hit the ground running in early 2021 to advance legislative and administrative protections for western Colorado’s BLM public lands. We’re advocating for our congressional delegation to prioritize conservation of BLM wildlands in legislative efforts and stakeholder outreach, and we’re collaborating with our partners to urge the Biden-Harris administration to reinstate Wilderness Study Area designation as an administrative protection tool for the BLM. We’re also cultivating a productive conversation about BLM land conservation on the western slope.

We have an all-star team lined up to work with us on this new initiative. We’re happy to announce that we’ve hired Scott Braden as the director of the Wildlands Project! Scott has over twenty years’ experience in public lands advocacy and education in the Intermountain West, including working as a wilderness advocate at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Conservation Colorado and several seasons with the Colorado Outward Bound School. 

We’re also grateful to have conservation photographer Jon Mullen as a partner on our project, who has already been busy developing an incredible photo gallery for the Colorado Wildlands Project. And, we’re fortunate to have dedicated support from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), who brings a wealth of expertise and an impressive track record protecting BLM wildlands.

To learn more about the Colorado Wildlands Project, visit www.cowildlands.org; you can also follow the Wildlands Project on Twitter and Instagram as @CO_wildlands.