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Western Environmental Law Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Crime & Law, Environment, Environmental Education, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Public Interest Law, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: The Western Environmental Law Center uses the power of the law to safeguard the public lands, wildlife, and communities of the American West in the face of a changing climate. We envision a thriving, resilient West, abundant with protected public lands and wildlife, powered by clean energy, and defended by communities rooted in an ethic of conservation.

Results: We have secured critical victories for the environment and communities of the American West. Our top victories of 2015 are: Safeguarding Imperiled Canada Lynx Through New Trapping Rules in Montana: We established a "lynx protection zone" in occupied lynx habitat in northwest Montana and the Greater Yellowstone region. The protection zone restricts the size and placement of traps that catch and sometimes kill lynx, and requires bobcat trappers to check their traps every 48 hours. According to the best available science, these changes will significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of accidental lynx trapping, and the likelihood of injury or death if an animal is caught. In Montana, we were also able to maintain the closure of the wolverine trapping season for an additional two years. Protecting Old-Growth Forests, Spotted Owls, and Salmon: We defeated a 50-year logging plan for 150,000 acres of forest in Siskiyou County, California, which allowed aggressive logging of spotted owl habitat and granted permits to harm or kill endangered species. The logging would have also impacted federally protected salmon, steelhead, and the fisher, an animal proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Securing a Historic Win for Climate Change: Representing eight youths, we filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington demanding that the state take serious action on climate change by using the most recent climate science when crafting its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The King County Superior ruled in our favor to have the Washington Department of Ecology to reconsider its denial of the youths' petition. This is the first case in the United States in which a state agency was ordered to consider the best available climate science when regulating carbon dioxide emissions. For more results on our work, please visit: http://www.westernlaw.org/successes

Target demographics: safeguard wildlife, wildlands, and communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 190 partner and client organizations

Geographic areas served: the American West

Programs: Wildlands: Defending and restoring the natural heritage of the West Wildlife: Protecting and recovering wildlife species indigenous to the West Climate and Energy: Fighting dirty energy while promoting a clean, renewable energy future in the West

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

This organization does the work that I would love to do but simply can't make an impact as an individual. Since they fight for the causes I believe in and are quite successful in winning these battles, I am happy to support them. You should consider these honorable folks to support as well.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Not so good. Don't really like. Not a fan. Wouldn't really like to say more.

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

I spent a year with WELC, first as an environmental law clinic student, then as a summer intern, then as an advanced clinic student.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been a WELC supporter for many years and a board member for going on three years. As such, I have been privy to and witnessed the growth of WELC, from both a program and a positive impact perspective. Much of the credit for this growth is attributable to very good leadership on the part of the Executive Director, Greg Costello, and the talented and dedicated staff attorneys. WELC is invested in providing its constituents with exemplary litigation and non-litigation support in a number of critical areas within the environmental law arena. The consistently positive results obtained by WELC in pursuing its goals and those of its clients speaks volumes with respect to its expertise in this area. I strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in supporting an on-the-ground environmental law organization that consistently achieves sought after results should seriously consider supporting WELC. If you are interested in seeing/hearing more about WELC, check out its website - www.westernlaw.org.


Rating: 5

I was a volunteer here for one summer in Eugene, OR. I loved the people that worked there and their causes. It is an excellent organization.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'll admit it, I'm biased. The Western Environmental Law Center works to protect things I care a lot about: old growth forests, wildlife habitat, clean air, drinking water for local communities...the list goes on. They provide policy guidance, scientific advice, and legal representation to conservation groups, state and local governments, individuals and small businesses across the West who want to protect their communities and quality of life. And WELC doesn't charge for their services. Instead, they rely on donations and grants from individuals and foundations. Over the past 35 years - first as the University of Oregon's Environmental Law Clinic and now (since 1993) as an independent non-profit organization - the Western Environmental Law Center has worked with hundreds of partner groups, individuals and businesses. In that time, it has become an incredibly effective advocate for protecting and defending the things that make the American West so special: its breathaking landscapes; its wild, free-flowing rivers, its crystal-clear air; its majestic old growth forests; its spectacular wildlife; and - most importantly - the quality of life for the people who live and visit there.