Landscape Stewardship Certificates of Appreciation - 2021
The Public Lands Foundation (PLF) presents Wilderness Land Trust with its 2021 Landscape Stewardship Certificate of Appreciation and this Citation. The PLF grants this recognition to honor private citizens and organizations that work to advance and sustain community-based stewardship on landscapes that include, in whole or in part, public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.
Congress designated the 7,140-acre Juniper Dunes Wilderness in 1984. At the time, there was a 472-acre private inholding. The BLM acquired half of the inholding in 1989, with the other 236 acres remaining in private ownership.
The owner of this last privately held inholding in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness contacted BLM in June 2019 expressing an interest to sell. However, it was soon obvious that the time needed for BLM to complete the purchase was far longer than the seller could tolerate. To meet the seller’s time constraints, BLM partnered with the Wilderness Land Trust, which acted immediately to pursue the acquisition and secure the property on the public’s behalf.
The Wilderness Land Trust, with Brad Borst acting on its behalf, has been a key player in BLM acquiring this remaining parcel of privately owned land within the wilderness boundary. The Wilderness Land Trust engaged the seller, secured a contract, and expended significant time and resources to complete the purchase of the property, including title reports, surveys, closing costs, and appraisals. The Wilderness Land Trust also made a significant good-faith effort to determine ownership of the parcel’s subsurface (mineral) rights and sought to obtain those rights for the BLM.
Once the Wilderness Land Trust acquired the property, it initiated a sale to BLM, which included selecting a second appraiser as required by BLM regulations and paying for the appraisal and other fees in advance.
This acquisition has enhanced recreational opportunities and protected the natural values of the area. The Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area is a popular recreation site with a unique landscape and important habitat for a wide range of plants and wildlife. The acquisition attracted the attention of several organizations that offered to assist with scientific studies of the parcel, including plant and bird surveys. Juniper Dunes is also part of the traditional territory of the Palus Tribe. The acquisition protects their legacy and supports the Department of the Interior’s priority to ensure tribal sovereignty.
The Public Lands Foundation is pleased to present the Wilderness Land Trust with its 2021 Landscape Stewardship Certificate of Appreciation and this Citation for invaluable contributions to the stewardship of America’s public landscapes.
Edward W. Shepard, President
September 15, 2021