A pond surrounded by shrubs with mountains in the background.
The Atwood Preserve The preserve contains the headwaters of the Amargosa River, an important biodiversity hotspot. © Chip Carroon/TNC


The Nature Conservancy Announces New Name of Oasis Valley Preserve

The Gary and Lajetta Atwood Preserve named to honor generous donors

Two people sitting on a bench with trees behind them.
Gary and Lajetta Atwood The Atwoods have supported The Nature Conservancy since 1997 and have supported the Nevada chapter since 2016 © Courtesy Lajetta Atwood

The Nature Conservancy in Nevada (TNC) has renamed a preserve in the Oasis Valley, formerly the 7J Ranch Preserve, as The Gary and Lajetta Atwood Preserve. The name honors two longtime generous donors to the organization: Lajetta Atwood, and her late husband, Gary Atwood. The nonprofit recently held a small ceremony with the Atwood family to recognize Gary and Lajetta’s extraordinary generosity and unveil a new sign at the preserve.

The Atwoods have supported The Nature Conservancy since 1997 and have supported the Nevada chapter since 2016, when they moved from Seattle to Las Vegas. The vast majority of their contributions have been for the TNC Nevada’s work in the Oasis Valley, one of the most important hotspots for biodiversity in the country. Gary and Lajetta also plan to leave their entire estate to TNC for the acquisition of property for conservation.

“This gift will be important for our chapter, and for our organization as a whole,” said Mauricia M.M. Baca, Nevada State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “Gary and Lajetta have been integral to our ability to purchase and restore properties in the Oasis Valley, including the Atwood Preserve. I am always humbled by people who dedicate their legacy to a better future for people and nature, and we are so grateful to the Atwoods for their transformative contribution.”

Three people standing in front of a preserve sign in the desert.
The Atwood Preserve TNC in Nevada's State Director Mauricia Baca and Board of Trustees Chair Andrew Strain celebrate the naming of The Gary and Lajetta Atwood Preserve with Lajetta Atwood © Chip Carroon/TNC

Lajetta and Gary, an Army veteran, met in Los Angeles, and they both worked as accountants throughout their careers. After leaving California, they owned, ran and sold a motel in Utah. They then lived in Seattle until Gary retired from the Washington Department of Transportation and Lajetta retired from a private mortgage lender. They moved to Las Vegas in 2016, where Lajetta continues to make her home. Gary passed away suddenly in March 2022

The Atwoods were prolific travelers: They traveled all over the U.S. in the early years of their marriage, and over the course of four decades, they visited more than 80 countries, many more than once. They also enjoyed rock hounding, a hobby that took them all over the West.

TNC Nevada acquired the 900-acre Atwood Preserve in early 2019, after nearly two decades of effort, thanks to generous support from the Atwoods. The springs and wetlands found on the property form the headwaters of the Amargosa River, a primarily underground river that emerges to the surface as springs along its path. When the river emerges aboveground, it gives rise to oases harboring a remarkable diversity of life, including rare fish, plants, amphibians and more than 250 species of resident and migratory birds. The highest concentration of endemic species anywhere in the United States is found along the middle region of the Amargosa River system, at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. TNC acquired the Atwood Preserve to protect and restore the river’s headwaters and the property’s exceptional ecological value.

“We are so grateful to the Atwoods for their exceptional gifts, and we deeply appreciate all of their incredible support to help us acquire and steward important places for birds and other wildlife,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “I am so proud to have The Gary and Lajetta Atwood Preserve join our network of special places that are contributing to our mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on X.