Trampe Ranch
Trampe Ranch Trampe Ranch, a working ranch near Telluride, CO, provides habitat for many species including the Gunnison sage grouse. © Barbara East

Land & Water Stories

10 Lands That Our Supporters Helped Protect Forever

Across the United States in 2018, generous support allowed the Conservancy to protect the places that keep wildlife corridors intact

Around the world, only about 5 percent of the natural lands at the highest risk of development are protected. Today, with increased development and a changing climate, the need to protect connected natural corridors has never been so urgent. We’ve been using the science-based grounding our supporters value to identify the most critical habitats to protect and worked to see that protection through with diverse partners. And your generous support has helped us accomplish all that we do.

When we safeguard natural places, we’re not only giving plants and animals the habitat they need to survive the challenges of present day. We’re protecting the water and the air we depend on for our own survival. And there’s something deeper. We’re preserving that feeling we get when the bubbling of a stream replaces that of car horns. When we are answering the call of the wind instead of our cell phones. We are keeping a connection intact to something much older than any of us.

Saving many of these special places took years (and sometimes even decades) of persistence, coordination and commitment. Here are just some of the places we’ve helped protect in the past year:

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park
Little Jerusalem Little Jerusalem seems to emerge unexpectedly as a canyon out of nowhere. The rock columns formed 85 million years ago when this part of North America was underwater. © Bruce Hogle

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park – Kansas

The same chalk formation that makes up South Dakota’s Badlands National Park created this geological and ecological wonder in Kansas. After purchasing and protecting this spectacular landscape a few years ago, in 2018 we partnered with the state of Kansas to have it designated a state park. This unique landscape provides important habitat for ferruginous hawks, cliff swallows and native reptiles. These connected lands also extend the reach of the Conservancy’s adjacent 17,290 acre Smoky Valley Ranch , which protects mating areas for prairie chickens and homes for endangered black-footed ferrets.


Dangermond Preserve
Dangermond Preserve Coyotes have been observed wandering around the intertidal zone at Dangermond Preserve, an unlikely sight anywhere else in Southern California. © Peter Montgomery/The Nature Conservancy

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve – California

TNC in California executive director Mike Sweeney couldn’t have said it any better: “It’s one of those places I can’t believe we managed to save.” Thanks to the generous support of donors Jack and Laura Dangermond, together we’ve been able to protect what can best be described one of the last perfect places for conservation. The 24,364 acre preserve on the Southern California coast sits at the intersection of two ocean currents and forms a rare corridor of protection between the mountains and the sea.

Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain
Chestnut Mountain includes hardwood & pine forests, wooded mountain gulfs, caves, the headwaters of the Caney Fork River & Billy Branch Lake, which provide drinking water for the community. © Byron Jorjorian

Bridgestone Nature Reserve at Chestnut Mountain – Tennessee

At 5,763 acres, the donation of Chestnut Mountain by Bridgestone Americas Inc. is the largest land donation in the history of The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee. The preserve, which rambles across mixed hardwood and pine forests, caves and a lake, provides habitat for more than 100 rare species, including the barking tree frog, the green salamander and the golden eagle. Further providing species the space to move, Chestnut Mountain connects to a mosaic of public lands that stretches 60,000 acres across the Cumberland Plateau. The forest will be managed as a carbon storage project and there are plans to use it as a demonstration site to show owners of other forested lands how carbon markets can be a source of income.

Kayaking at Black River
Kayaking at Black River On the Black River in North Carolina, kayakers can observe the oldest trees east of the Rockies. © Andrew Kornylak

Black River Preserve – North Carolina

The Conservancy has protected over 16,000 acres of the Black River Basin over the past couple decades, but there’s something very special about the most recent 306 acre addition. With this latest tract, we are protecting the oldest trees in the United States east of the Rockies. Scientists have been able to date one of these ancient bald cypresses to the year 364 AD, but it’s possible some of them in this forest are even older. Beyond providing a connection with a living thing from another millennium, our work at Black River protects habitat for rare fish species as well as black bear and river otter.

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Bitter Creek – Montana
Bitter Creek The additional protection at Bitter Creek helps secure the longest known pronghorn migration in the world. © Brian Martin

Bitter Creek – Montana

This sea of grass near the US-Canada border is remote even by Montanan standards. In 2018, TNC partnered with private landowners to protect more than 10,000 acres of ranchland west of the Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area on Montana’s Northern Great Plains. Combined with easements obtained in previous years, we have now protected more than 35,000 acres of habitat for greater sage-grouse, declining grassland birds and wildlife such as pronghorn and swift fox. While high quality grasses and deep prairie soils have elsewhere been lost to farming, Bitter Creek’s legacy was preserved by ranch families who, for generations, cared for the grass.

Bear Rocks Preserve
Allegheny Front The property on the Allegheny Front lies on a ridge crest that forms part of the Eastern Continental Divide, & is composed of stunted red spruce, ancient bogs & boulders. © Kent Mason

Allegheny Front – West Virginia

The Dolly Sods landscape is breathtaking, and this year, the Conservancy protected a keystone tract of the region. Generous support from our donors allowed us to safeguard 1,143 acres of red spruce forest, windswept barrens and ancient bogs. Sitting directly on the Eastern Continental Divide, rainwater here feeds the headwaters that deliver water supply to many cities such as Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. This place provides habitat to more than 26 rare and protected species like the Cheat Mountain Salamander and the snowshoe hare.

Hakalau The koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest that is being added to Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge is important habitat for endangered Hawaiian forest birds like this orange Akepa. ©

Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge – Hawaii

McCandless Ranch, bordering Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, had been the number one acquisition priority for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for three straight years. The Conservancy stepped in to provide advocacy leadership and work with Congress and various agencies to  purchase 10,000 acres to add to the refuge. The purchase prevents logging and development of prime koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest that is important habitat for endangered Hawaiian forest birds like the akepa. TNC is no stranger to the region. We established Hakalau NWR in 1985 and over the years have played a role in the purchase/transfer of 32,000 of its 48,000 acres.

Trampe Ranch
Trampe Ranch The Trampe Ranch, which lies in the 30-mile corridor between Gunnison and Gothic, is an iconic Colorado ranch, rich in history & representative of the breathtaking landscapes. © The Nature Conservancy

Trampe Ranch – Colorado

With partners, The Nature Conservancy in Colorado worked with the owner of Trampe Ranch to protect its iconic Western landscape. The entire ranch has now been protected for its outstanding ecological, agricultural and scenic values. This extraordinary place remains a working ranch that provides habitat for many species such as Gunnison sage grouse.

Kimball Hill
Kimball Hill Nestled southwest of the White Mountains in the Newfound Lake watershed, Kimball Hill secures a critical link in a conservation corridor for wildlife like black bear & bobcat. © Joe Klementovich

Kimball Hill Forest – New Hampshire

When the 2,700 acre Kimball Hill Forest property went up for sale this summer, the forest’s future suddenly became unclear. The Conservancy stepped up to ensure the legacy of this incredible place because it secures a critical link in a vast conservation corridor for wildlife like black bear and bobcat. As climate change and development continue to stress these species, the ability to move about the landscape can be the difference between life and death.


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Cape Viking
Cape Viking These 477 acres will serve as an important addition to the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, visited by 317 bird species, 42 mammal species, 55 reptile & amphibian species. © TNC

Cape Viking – New Jersey

After ten years of hard work and persistence, The Conservancy was able to protect the largest privately-owned piece of land remaining on the Cape May peninsula. And we didn’t hold it for long; Cape Viking was turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be added to Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. This region is a one of North America’s most important stopovers for migratory birds. As our climate changes, so do our strategies for land protection. Part of what makes Cape Viking so desired for conservation is that it protects an area for salt marsh to migrate inland in response to sea level rise.

These land protection wins are just a small sample of extraordinary places TNC supporters helped us conserve this year. Every acre we protect comes back to generous donors who stand with us through their financial support. To do even more to help protect our most important lands and waters, donate now.