WESTERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER Overview
Geographic areas served: Western US
Programs: Wildlands: Preserving and restoring the natural heritage of the West
Wildlife: Preserving and restoring wildlife species indigenous to the West
Climate and Energy: Protecting the West from the impacts of climate change
We combine our legal skills with sound conservation biology and environmental science to address major environmental issues in the West in the most strategic and effective manner. We work at the national, regional, state, and local levels; and in all three branches of government. WELC integrates national policies and regional perspective with the local knowledge of our 100+ partner groups to implement smart and appropriate place-based actions.
WELC has a highly experienced team of expert attorneys, conservation biologists and Western policy experts. We work close to the ground, with offices in Oregon, Montana, and New Mexico. As a public interest law firm, WELC does not charge clients and partners for services, but relies instead on charitable gifts from individuals, families, and foundations to accomplish our mission.
• Stopped—for the second year in a row—recreational wolverine trapping in Montana, the only state in the lower 48 that still permits this horrific practice. With less than 50 wolverines capable of breeding remaining in the lower 48 states, our victory gives this rare, fierce carnivore a fighting chance to recover its population and avoid extinction.
• Protected ecosystems and communities in the West from harmful oil and gas drilling on public lands. In Colorado, our legal advocacy stopped drilling on 20,000 acres in the fertile North Fork Valley, on 12,000 acres near Durango, and on the Gunnison National Forest near critical elk habitat. We blocked a lease sale in New Mexico that would have allowed drilling next to family farms and ranches in the Chama River Valley. And we won a precedent-setting right-to-know victory that forces BLM to reveal the names of entities nominating public lands for oil and gas drilling.
• Beat back yet another challenge from the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association to secure a victory safeguarding all perennial rivers, streams, and wetlands in New Mexico’s Wilderness Areas as Outstanding National Resource Waters. Our win protects 1.4 million acres of watersheds, 700 miles of rivers and streams, 29 lakes, and 5,400 acres of wetlands in this arid state.
• Forced the Bureau of Land Management to conduct intensive, on-the-ground surveys for cultural and historic features in Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. This important victory ensures the Monument’s cultural properties, sites, and features are identified, protected, and preserved for future generations.