The Nature Conservancy has long recognized the importance of America’s public lands. Americans have a deep-rooted tradition of turning to our landscape to sustain and enrich our lives.
Even during times of crisis, including the Civil War and the Great Depression, America’s greatest leaders have committed to conservation as a means of uplifting our people and healing our nation.
- President Lincoln authorized the protection of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove as California state parks in June 1864 — the same month the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, began.
- Later that summer, The New York Times called for the establishment of a public park in the Adirondacks.
- To save a generation of young men as well as our land, President Franklin Roosevelt set the Civilian Conservation Corps to work, completing conservation projects throughout Utah on National Forest, BLM, and State and National Park lands.
Today, the Conservancy supports policy initiatives such as America’s Great Outdoors and urges a permanent commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Of course, the Conservancy also has a long history of working with local, state and federal entities to establish and expand popular and iconic American places. While the sites below represent only a fraction of our projects in Utah, we hope these highlights will inspire you to explore and protect our great outdoors.
After all, this land is your land.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Established in 1928, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is listed as one of the top ten birding sites in the world. The original 25,000 acres has grown over the years as additional nesting and feeding habitat has been added. One of these areas was Knudson Marsh, which the Conservancy purchased and turned over to the Refuge for management. Now approximately 74,000 acres, the Refuge offers guided tours in the summer, wildlife viewing and photography, and educational exhibits at the Visitor Center, open weekdays 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
When the desert tortoise was listed as Threatened in the early 1990’s, the Conservancy joined with Washington County and other partners to create a Habitat Conservation Plan that would protect the heart of Washington County's desert tortoise population. The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a 60,000-acre protected area north of the city of St. George, also brings protection to other rare and sensitive species – the gila monster, sidewinder rattlesnake, chuckwalla and peregrine falcon, which you can see by hiking one of the Reserve's many trails, including those found in Snow Canyon State Park.
Snake Creek Canyon
As the last undeveloped Wasatch canyon, the upper reaches of Snake Creek Canyon were slated for ski area expansion and possible subdivision and development. The Conservancy purchased and preserved this 732-acre habitat and watershed, which provides clean drinking water for Midway City, Heber City, Wasatch County and Salt Lake County. The canyon is managed by Wasatch Mountain State Park as undeveloped land for continued recreational use by the public. Enjoy hiking, biking, and wildflowers this summer, or skiing and snowmobiling in winter.
The Conservancy, in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Division of Wildlife Resources, protected approximately 5,600 acres, or nearly 14 miles of the Strawberry, from imminent development. The Strawberry boasts a high-quality riparian habitat and pristine fisheries. Visitors can enjoy outstanding flyfishing beginning in midsummer. Vehicle access to the river is possible from the Strawberry Pinnacles area, and extends for 6 miles, and hikers can begin at Soldier Creek Dam and follow the trail eastward along the north bank of the river.